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Being the Nurse Outside Work

Being the Nurse Outside Work

Nicole Lehr | Scrubs Magazine

Healthcare. A profession where we are all taught how to and expected to respond appropriately in emergency situations, help people in need, and save lives… right? A hefty expectation for any individual, but an honorable one I suppose. When handed the appropriate resources for following out such expectations (hospital setting, nearby code cart, ample hands with comparable “life-saving” experience) although the result is not always favorable, it is easy to look back and say we did everything we could.

So how about when we are thrown into unfavorable situations where those same vital resources are not at our fingertips? When you don’t have an attending running the code or a respiratory therapist there to intubate in seconds. When you don’t have code drugs to push when you lose a pulse and the only faces you see around you are those staring in horror because they’ve never seen a person down in their lives. We are all comfortable with our CPR skills on dummies because we’ve practiced countless times. And many of us may be comfortable with our CPR skills on actual humans because we’ve been in countless codes in the hospital. But how many of us, aside from EMS and transport team folks, are comfortable with the idea of resuscitating an individual in a public setting, in a house, in a park, on a plane, in a restaurant, or on the street?

By nature of our professions, we are expected to be the first respondents to an emergency situation, even if outside the hospital. People shout for nurses and doctors when a person collapses in a crowd. It would be against our nature to drive by a car accident that we witnessed prior to the ambulance and firetruck arrival. We are supposed to be immune from the “rubber-necking” response… the rubber-neckers are looking at us.

The alarm went off at 4:25 and the nurse rolled over with a moan thinking it was a very bad idea to sign up for a race with a 6 a.m. start time. As she is in the bathroom brushing away at her teeth she hears the sound of screeching tires then a house-shaking blast that quickly wakes her up from her early morning daze. In her run up the stairs she sees the frightened look of her roommate by the front door gazing out the window. They know the blast was close because they can see the smoke billowing in the air above the street.

The nurse throws on some shoes, opens the door and runs to the sidewalk, gazing in front of the neighbor’s house at the intersection where a light pole stands. In the haze of the smoke she notices what appears to be two mangled cars, one on each side of the concrete pole. She hears sirens in the distance and as the lone cop car approaches she notices that the two pieces are the front end and back end of one car, completely split by impact.

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