(Well, I thought I was homeward bound. Turns out they overbooked my flight from Phoenix to Oakland, and needed volunteers to take a later flight. What’s in it for me? A bigger jet, dinner and a free round-trip ticket to anywhere US Airways flies in the US. Hello?
Heck yeah, I’ll volunteer! I’m exhausted but I’m thinking, “NASCAR, here I come!”. My husband has it tagged for something else. Not a chance, Bub – Coca Cola 600, 2009, I’m so there! So I’m blogging in a combo Wolfgang Puck/Pretzel Mania/TCBY/Pizza Hut cubicle. It’s the only place with a plug!)
Here I am with Mary Tyler Moore on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.
Or at least her statue.
I didn’t have a hat to toss, darn it!
The mall is beautiful, with sidewalk cafes, plants and flowers – and every store you can imagine.
This photo is somewhat misleading.
The statue really doesn’t look like Mary.
And I’m not seven months pregnant.
In fact, I’m much thinner than this.
When I decided to attend the ENA conference, I expected to be inspired and informed
I didn’t expect Major William White.
He wasn’t on the agenda.
He was asked to reprise a statement he had made during the General Assembly for the Opening Keynote.
Major White is the Director of Trauma Education for the Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute. He served in Iraq as the nurse manager of the emergency department in the International Zone.
They cared for everyone: men, women, children, Iraqi, American. Insurgents.
Think your ER is busy? Imagine a two minute (maybe) heads up that you are getting fifteen major trauma patients from a bombing. Horrible injuries. Multiple amputations. As you gear up to care for those, more are being pulled from collapsed buildings and being brought in for care and your ER itself is under fire.
In the middle of all this, a reporter embedded with the unit puts a microphone up to you and asks how you handle all this? How are you able to deal with it?
Major White had an answer.
He said, “We are ER nurses, this is what we do. We manage chaos.”
That was perfect.
We manage chaos.
Most of us have never had to manage it in an ER in the center of a war zone, but that is exactly what we do as emergency department nurses. Every department. Every day. Every shift.
We manage chaos.
We manage it when the rooms are packed, the hallway becomes an ICU, the waiting area is full of people who should be roomed and two people call in sick for the next shift.
We manage it with a patient who is acting out because their ability to cope is gone.
We manage it when a family hears the news that their loved one is gone.
From the department level down to the individual patient, we make order out of chaos.
Major White’s comments during the Keynote Address were brief, vivid, poignant and inspiring.
I started to lose it when he told us that the staff of the ER had made a pact. A staff member would always be with a patient if they were terminally injured; no one in that ER in the middle of Iraq would ever die without someone at the bedside. No one would die alone.
And it didn’t matter who you were.
This post doesn’t even begin to convey how proud I felt to be an ER nurse that day.
I’ll never see one-millionth of what Major White has seen. I’ll never have that level of awesome responsibility.
But I’ll hold my head up a little higher when I realize I am in a profession that allows me to call someone like Major White a professional colleague.
He brought clarity to the role of the emergency nurse in one sentence.
No matter what nursing specialty you work in, stop to think about what you do.
Really stop and think about it.
Not just anyone can do what we do.
And we should be proud of our accomplishments.
Every department. Every day. Every shift.