The Lifeline of Johns Hopkins: Heidi Hubble

In a sub-basement of The Johns Hopkins Hospital lies the lifeline of Johns Hopkins: the 120-member Lifeline transport team, including Communications Supervisor Heidi Hubble. With a firefighter and paramedic for parents, she grew up discussing accident scenes and medical calls over family dinners, which led her to become an emergency medical technician (EMT) at age 16. She continued working in the field of emergency services temporarily while thinking about a career path, but more than 20 years later, she’s happy she never tried anything else.

At Johns Hopkins, what is Lifeline’s role?

Lifeline was developed because patients were coming in the door much sicker than when they left home or another medical institution. Rather than waiting for patients to come in to begin receiving Johns Hopkins care, Lifeline was created to bring Johns Hopkins care to the patient.

Lifeline’s responsibilities include transporting patients in or out of the Johns Hopkins Health System by one of six Lifeline ambulances or by air in the Lifeline helicopter; transporting patients from unit to unit within The Johns Hopkins Hospital; responding to code events on the East Baltimore campus; and transporting patients to and from Sibley Memorial and Suburban Hospitals.

What does a typical day look like for you?

We never know what the day will bring, but for me, that is the exciting part of the job. I supervise a team of 17 within the Lifeline Communications Center, where we coordinate details for every patient transport, which is more than 50,000 a year. I am also the acting manager for the 15-member team supporting the Hopkins Access Line (HAL), a centralized system for outside medical institutions to call when they want to transfer a patient into the Johns Hopkins Health System.

How has Lifeline been involved in Ebola transportation preparation?

All of the Lifeline staff went through Ebola training, so we are all equipped to help with patient transport from an airport, another medical institution, or wherever a patient is coming from. The specialized transport protocol includes a mobile isolation unit, which helps protect the staff while also allowing them to be in close proximity to the patient during transport. Last November we conducted a drill simulating how an Ebola patient would be transported into The Johns Hopkins Hospital, which helped tweak the process.

What’s your most memorable experience on the job?

Several years ago I coordinated transportation for a very sick patient from an out-of-state hospital. When I found out that an open bed was no longer available, I acted as the patient’s advocate and provided frequent updates to worried family members over the two subsequent days it took to find an available bed. Weeks later, the patient’s family came to thank me in person, calling me a “guardian angel.” To me, I was just doing my job and of bringing Johns Hopkins to the patient. It was very touching and a humbling reminder of how important our work really is.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Family is important to me, so spending time with my daughter and maintaining my status as “favorite aunt” to my nieces and nephews are things I love to do. Recently I embraced my inner Jim Henson by learning the craft of becoming a puppeteer, performing in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a local theatre company. I love theatre performances, live music and photography.

What motto do you live by?

Do the right thing! It may not always be the easiest or most popular choice, but you have to be able to sleep at night. As it applies to my line of work, I treat each patient encounter as if it were with one of my own family members.

Click to hear how Hubble feels connected to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Strategic Plan.


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