Officer ignored his sergeant’s orders in order to save her life E-mail
Police officers are expected to be physically tough. When you're rolling to a call, there's no time for a bum knee or a headache. But there's another kind of toughness that doesn't have anything to do with injuries or pain.

It takes a special kind of toughness to take care of another cop in trouble, especially when you have to disobey orders to do it.

NYPD Police Officer James Atkins disobeyed a direct order from his sergeant recently when he decided that something was very wrong with his colleague, Sgt. Grevirlene Kersellius, 42.

Kersellius, 42, was recovering from a brain aneurysm at Roosevelt Hospital recently when she spoke with reporters about the heroism of Atkins.

She, like everyone else, had had headaches before. So when she had an extraordinarily bad one on the job recently, she decided she would just "tough it out." There's always pressure on female officers to prove their toughness, and Kersellius did not want her fellow officers thinking she left work in the middle of a shift because of a headache.

Thank God for Officer Atkins. He knew something wasn't right and insisted on rushing her to the hospital. Once there, she told doctors it was just a bad headache.

The headache was actually an aneurysm causing massive bleeding at the base of her brain. It would have surely killed her but for Atkins' insistence.

"Thank you for not listening to me," the tearful 19-year NYPD veteran told Atkins, according to a story in the New York Daily News.

"She looked bad and I made the decision to take her straight to the hospital," Atkins, 41, told the News. "When I found out what it was I was like, ‘Wow!'"

Both Kersellius and Atkins are assigned to Transit District 3 in Harlem.

They were racing to a call of a man with a gun, lights and siren blaring. Out of nowhere, she felt excruciating pain in the front of her head and the back of her neck.

"It was like I had a ton on my head and I couldn't hold it up," recalled the mother of three boys for reporters.

They reached the location and Atkins bolted from the driver's seat into the train station looking for the gunman. Despite the debilitating pain, Kersellius mustered all her strength to follow her partner to back him up.

That's when Atkins noticed the pain on her face. She told Atkins she wasn't feeling well and ordered him to take her back to their office.

"Sarge, I'm taking you to the hospital," he said. She insisted on going to the office.

But by this time, Atkins knew his fellow officer was in serious trouble.

He decided to disobey the sergeant's order and get her to a doctor. "He was driving and holding me up, saying, ‘Stay with me, Sarge!" Kersellius told the News.

A CAT scan showed bleeding at the base of her brain.

She was quickly transferred to Roosevelt Hospital, where Dr. Rafael Ortiz, a neuroendovascular surgeon, performed a five-hour operation to insert platinum coils to prevent further bleeding. So how close was it?

"One-third of people with this die, and one third have a bad neurological outcome," Ortiz said.

"The chance of a good outcome is better if the patient comes in right away."

Kersellius says the ordeal has taught her a valuable lesson - don't take a bad headache lightly.

What about Atkins, the reporters asked her?
"I call him my savior," she said.


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