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You've surely heard the saying, "I'm at the end of my rope!!" Well, in a very literal sense, I was dangling on one end of a rope while my fate was in the hands of those controlling the rope at the other end. The situation? A night chair lift evacuation rescue drill in total darkness at the ski area where I'm a ski patrol member.
You see, rescuing people safely from a chair lift that's stuck high above the slopes is a skill we practice every year-on each other. Let's just say it's one of those low-volume, high-risk scenarios in which everyone must be fully engaged in the moment and adhere to all necessary safety precautions to avert injury or even death.
When I'm sitting in that chair lift looking down at the team on the ground with my fate in their hands, I'm watching them to be certain they're doing each step correctly. As a patroller, I know the steps-and I also know what can go wrong. I want to see a sense of confidence and caring in my rescuers. In the critical moments, I don't want to see any clowning around or inattentiveness. When I commit to leaving the relative safety of the chair lift and descending on the rescue chair they've raised to me, I place my life in their hands. And it's in these sentinel moments that I'm inspired to wax philosophic and draw all sorts of interesting parallels to the nursing world.
I think about all of the patients in our care who watch us with worried eyes as we administer medication or prepare to perform a procedure. How about patients who also happen to be nurses or other members of the healthcare profession? They're even more in tune with what can go wrong. So, as we go about our everyday work as nurses, it's important to stay mindful of the patients at the end of the ropes that we control. We're their rescuers; we hold their lives in our hands. That's an honor and a privilege.
But with privilege comes expectations. We need to appreciate the importance of staying focused on patient safety, employing the correct technique, portraying confidence-and always displaying caring, compassion, and professionalism. If you were on the end of that rope, isn't that what you'd want?
Until next time-
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2011 Vice President, Emergency, Trauma, and Aeromedical Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
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