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A woman I met at work reinforced to me that actions speak louder than words and can have a long-lasting impact. I didn't remember her at first, but when she asked to speak with me privately, I knew that whatever I was about to hear was very important to her. She asked if I recalled a night about 15 years ago when I was walking with my husband, Larry, among a crowd of people through an open field after an outdoor concert. She described how her mother was hit by a car traveling too close to the crowd; Larry and I immediately came to her aid.
I responded, "Your mother was pulling your son in a wagon when she was hit. But, thank goodness, he wasn't injured." She told me that our actions made all the difference to her in the emotional aftermath. Fortunately, her mother recovered.
My total focus that night was on stabilizing her mother's injuries to the best degree possible and on protecting her spine as she lay in a dirt path awaiting an ambulance. Because events like these seem to follow us everywhere, Larry (a ski patroller) and I always keep well-appointed first aid kits in our cars.
I don't recall our conversation at the time, but I introduced myself as a trauma nurse. Being prepared and handling the situation calmly and competently was reassuring to this family. And until this chance encounter, I hadn't thought about that night in a very long time.
We could have chosen to keep walking like so many others in the crowd, but that's not us. The decision to get involved and to help is a very personal one. Yes, scene safety and situational risk must be considered. But chances are, there's something useful that can be done even if it's too dangerous to access the patient-for example, taking action to prevent others from being injured or to avert further harm to the patient.
Our nursing wisdom is a gift. Emergency care skills greatly enhance that body of knowledge, especially when you're out of your usual element. The bottom line is that we would want someone to be there for us in our time of need. Would you be that someone? Pay it forward.
Until next time-
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2012 Vice President: Emergency and Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
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