Wayne County Hospital and Clinic System staff present at the IHA Heroes Award Ceremony in Des Moines, from left: Georgia Runyon, Dr. Gary Runyon, Denise Hook, Sheila Mattly, Jill Babbitt, Mike Thomas, Cody Babbitt, Kellie Bunnell, Dawn Christian, Dr. Joel Baker and Daren Relph.
On Oct. 10, the Wayne County Hospital and Clinic System enjoyed the honor of having one of their own receive special recognition at the Iowa Hospital Association’s 84th annual meeting, which took place at the Marriott Hotel in Des Moines. Cody Babbitt, EMT, RN and Emergency Department Director, was one of 10 recipients presented with the Iowa Association’s Heroes Award.
This special award is presented to individuals who have been nominated by their organization, and then selected by an independent panel of judges who are also committed health care professionals. Nomination criterion is based on someone who has performed a heroic act or tirelessly given their time, talent or expertise to better their organization, patients or community with measurable results. These everyday heroes are role models for other hospital employees and the community they serve. They are people of integrity and honesty whose actions are evidence that they always place others before themselves.
“Healthcare is filled with exceptional individuals who perform heroic acts every day,” commented Daren Relph, CEO. “But every now and then someone truly stands apart; Cody Babbitt is one of these rare individuals. It was his willingness to question the validity of medication dosage information that others in authority had previously endorsed that proved to be lifesaving.”
In 2011, while reviewing the newly issued State Protocol of Medication Administration, Babbitt was alarmed when he read the section pertaining to the correct dosage for Pediatric Epinephrine. The printed protocol was 10 times the actual recommended dose, which could have led to complications ranging from headache, increased blood pressure with the potential for cerebral hemorrhage, pulmonary edema and even fatal cardiac arrhythmias.
“When I first became the ambulance director, the state came up with a new way they release the protocols,” Babbitt explained. “I was reading through it, and got to the pediatric part and looked at the dosages and just noticed that they had the wrong concentration for that medication.”
Babbitt not only took the time to read the protocol, he worked the calculations and verified the information was incorrect. This took an expert eye and due diligence. Babbitt’s perseverance protected children’s lives. Medication errors often happen because someone has mislabeled a dose or misplaced a decimal point. He immediately notified the state EMS director. The state protocol information is distributed to every emergency medical service throughout the state of Iowa. It is the ‘Bible’ for determining proper dosage amounts. Babbitt’s critical thinking and quick action prevented potentially deadly outcomes. When he heard about the award he would receive, it came as a shock.
“I got called into Daren’s office. They told me they applied for the award and I was accepted. I was surprised. Very surprised. I didn’t feel it was warranted. There are so many people who deserve this award beside myself. I don’t like being the center of attention—I just kind of prefer to stay in the background. But I was appreciative.
“The awards ceremony was very interesting. I was there with nine other honorees. Very humbling. It was interesting listening to the other people’s stories and what they went through.”
Babbitt joined the Wayne County Ambulance Department in 2004, just out of high school as an entry level EMT-B. He progressively earned his EMT certifications and was one of the first in the EMS department to earn his RN degree. He was promoted to Ambulance Director in 2010 and subsequently promoted to Emergency Department Director in 2012.
Babbitt believes in training, and mock drills are one of his favorite activities. He is active in Region 5 Emergency Preparedness and has coordinated on-site disaster training exercises. He was instrumental in procuring grant funds for automated external defibrillator (AED) machines for WCH’s rural clinics, dialysis department and rehabilitation centers. He is active with the local EMS Council and is a member of the Indian Hills Community College Rural Health Education Partnership Board.
Babbitt is always smiling, is a little bit shy and has a huge heart. He cares deeply about his profession and the responsibility it carries. He has proven to be a superb team leader and is highly respected by his peers.
Babbitt stumbled upon his current profession by accident.
“I originally went to school for criminal justice, and I took a first responders class as a volunteer with the Seymour First Responders. I just enjoyed it so much I decided to get my EMT. Then I got on at the hospital fulltime. I just enjoyed the type of work once I got into it. Things just fell into place.”
Reviewing the protocols was not something he was assigned to do. He was sitting that day with another medic, and Babbitt said, ‘This isn’t right’ and he looked up the medication in his flipbook to confirm that it was incorrect. Just from experience, the dose caught his attention.
“It was a simple decimal point error,” Babbitt said. “It would’ve ended up being 10 times the dose on a pediatric patient—especially if it was a newer medic and they were just going off the protocols. The medication was for cardiac arrest or allergic reactions. It could’ve been deadly.”
Babbitt is only 29-years-old and lives with his wife Jill in Plano. He graduated from Seymour High School and attended Indian Hills Community College for both EMS and nursing. The couple has a 19-month-old son, Emmett. They also have a baby girl on the way.