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Baptist ‘angel’ rescues elderly neighbor

When 88-year-old Jewel Sisson heard her daughter and son-in-law leaving for church, she gave up all hope of being rescued that night from her garage floor. Sisson, who lives next door to her daughter, had fallen five hours earlier.

“I was fixing to go to the store, and I fell right at the door,” said Sisson. “I could not move. I hollered ‘help, please help, help,’ over five hours.”

Ira Rowland, a surgical nurse at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, was across the street checking her parents’ mail when she heard Sisson’s cries. At that point, Sisson’s screams were so faint that Rowland wasn’t sure if she heard a human or an animal.

“I heard something that either sounded like a cat or maybe a baby,” said Rowland. “It just sounded like something was in pain.”

Rowland had rescued a cat years before and thought perhaps it was another cat. But the closer she got to the sound, the clearer it became.

“Her [Sisson’s] garage door was up,” said Rowland. “I thought surely if there’s anything going on under her garage, she would hear it. Anyway, the closer I got to her garage, the more it sounded like a person.”

When Rowland peeked into the open garage, she saw Sisson lying on the floor, bruised and bloody. Rowland checked her pulse and made sure she was OK before calling for an ambulance. While she and Sisson waited on the ambulance, she called Sisson’s daughter, who immediately came and went to the hospital with her mom. Sisson was taken to a Baptist hospital where she was assessed and released that night.

“Everything was OK,” said Sisson. “And they ran me through so many tests. They said everything was OK … I just stumbled. I didn’t step right on the step or something and just fell flat on my face.”

Sisson, who turned 89 on Oct. 24—just 12 days after her accident, now wears a medical alert necklace. She is thankful Rowland found her and calls her an “angel.”

“It was a God-send because it’s not real close where she went down to get her parents’ mail,” said Sisson. “You all should be very proud of her.”

Sisson now tells all her neighbors about how Rowland rescued her. She also sent Rowland flowers and submitted a letter to The Commercial Appeal, describing Rowland as an angel and a hero.

Rowland is a bit embarrassed by all the attention because she doesn’t think she did anything extraordinary.

“She’s just really extremely appreciative about everything,” said Rowland. “All this attention, I mean, it’s just kind of shocking. Because I think anybody would do it.”

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