Today I cannot help but reflect on what has now been called “the worst mass shooing in US history and the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil since September 11, 2001.” This attack took place in the early morning hours yesterday, Sunday June 12, 2016. I know that many people are thinking and praying for the victims and their families. However, my thoughts have also been on the police, EMS, and ER staff.
It is hard to imagine what it must have been like in the emergency room at Orlando Regional Medical Center. How would you have reacted? Would it make a difference if you were a brand new graduate nurse or a seasoned nurse? How would you have handled it if you did everything you knew how to do and your patient still died? There were a number of victims who died after getting to the hospital. Would you have allowed yourself to grieve? What tools do you already have to deal with grief and sorrow? I am a firm believer in meditation and long walks in nature.
I have read that it is not helpful to seek a reason for why this happened. This refers to both the attack and why your patient(s) died. There is no plausible reason. There is no answer to why one patient lives and another does not. It is just the way it is. The outcome, whether the patient lives or dies, does not indicate if you are a good nurse or not.
In an effort to understand what it must have been like in the ER at Orlando Regional Medical Center yesterday morning I have read accounts on social media and newspapers. It appears that it was a slow time in the predawn hours in the emergency room. Until, a shooting at a night-club very nearby changed that!
One medical professional reported that the attack “unleashed a sudden surge of bloodied victims that seemed “relentless.” People were brought in like a gush of water from a dam that had broken. People were brought in with single, two, three, and four gunshot wounds. People were shot in the arms, legs, chest, abdomen, and head. They were dressed up and covered in blood.
Earlier in the evening everything seemed quite normal in the emergency room. Then a radio call came in about a shooting. At first it was thought that someone had gotten shot in a parking lot by some fool with a gun. Next they heard that there were multiple victims. This changed everything!
It was as if a flood of wounded patient showed up all at once, and then more, and more. It was unceasing. One medical practitioner stated: “Like, one minute we were waiting, and the next minute, it was chaos.”
People arriving were described as panicked and hysterical, both victims and family members. I have to also imagine that there were cell phones ringing non-stop as family members were trying to call victims to see if they were okay. It must have been bedlam.
The ER was described as being so loud they you couldn’t hear yourself think. Doctor’s orders were hard to hear. Everyone was shouting. Seconds were critical and everyone was operating on adrenaline. Afterwards staff members were described as being hoarse and exhausted.
This is what makes me proud to be a nurse. We get the job done! No matter the situation, we do what needs to be done. However, are our efforts rewarded? Are our efforts appreciated? Does anyone know the price we pay emotionally and physically to be in this life saving profession? Do we appreciate ourselves and take care of ourselves?
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