Ivan Escobar Honored as 2020 “Everyday Extraordinary” Nurse Hero

Nursing was not Ivan Escobar’s initial career path. After working for 10 years in pest control, he opted to go back to school with the intention of transitioning to law enforcement.

Ivan enrolled at Malcolm X College and set out to complete his associate degree in law enforcement. While in college, Ivan had a change of heart and transitioned to nursing, “I think nursing really was my calling without me (initially) knowing,” says Ivan, who at the time was also working at St. Anthony’s Hospital as an Emergency Room Technician.

Ivan has always had the compassion and commitment required of a nurse. On September 28, 2019 Ivan’s compassion and commitment were truly challenged. On this cloudy day, Ivan and his 13-yeard-old son were driving in Humboldt Park to pick up Ivan’s mother and take her to a family gathering. Suddenly, they heard gunshots and a woman’s scream, which seemed to be coming from a vehicle near their car. Instead of rushing away from the scene, Ivan turned his car around to check on the occupants of the impacted vehicle, which had come to a sudden stop.

Fearing for his son’s safety, Ivan told him to stay in the car while he got out to check on the people in the other car. As Ivan opened the driver’s car door, he saw a screaming woman clutching a little girl on the passenger’s side, and found a man on the driver’ side bleeding profusely from the head, “I grabbed the little girl’s teddy bear that was in the car, and I applied pressure on his forehead,” recalls Ivan, who had just become a registered nurse only three weeks prior to the incident.

The shooting had wounded a 44-year-old father who was driving with his wife and three-year-old daughter, who Ivan noticed was in a princess costume. The man was hit in the face by a stray bullet, according to the police report following the incident.

Ivan stayed with the victim until paramedics arrived and kept talking to the man, who despite being shot between the eyes, was conscious and responding to Ivan’s questions. At the same time, Ivan was also trying to calm down the man’s wife and daughter who continued to scream in shock. 

A few days after the incident, Ivan visited the man and his family and brought a special gift to their little daughter, “I went to Build-a-Bear and bought the little girl a nurse bear, I figured to replace her bear that I had used,” says Ivan.

Remarkably, the man made a full recovery because fortunately, the bullet did not penetrate his skull. As for Ivan, he doesn’t consider himself a hero and explains that it would do it all over again if presented with a similar situation because as human beings “we should all just help each other.”

For the first time in 18 years, coronavirus caused the cancellation of the Red Cross Heroes Breakfast, but stories of resilience and determination prevail. These “Everyday Extraordinary Heroes” live among us. Watch their stories every Tuesday & Thursday starting April 14 at 10 a.m. in social media.

You can support the American Red Cross during this Coronavirus outbreak at Redcross.org/ChicagoHero.

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