This week’s post is a shout out to all my medical friends that have been on call or on lockdown in hospitals around Florida in the midst of one of the most frightening hurricanes in years. Natural disasters test humanity at it’s core. Hurricane Matthew is no exception and has left a trail of destruction in its path. My hometown in Florida was in the monster storm’s path, threatening family and friends there. As I anxiously followed Facebook news feeds for a play by play, a common thread began to weave.
While friends and family stocked up on water, food, candles, generators, plywood, made final plans, and/or evacuated, my nurse and first responder friends packed their bags and left their families behind to report for duty. They were to report for duty and plan to be on lockdown until the storm surge lifted.
While most hospitals had an open door policy offering shelter for both family members and pets, many chose to leave behind their worried partners and children, frightened pets, and the uncertainty of what would transpire over the many hours on lockdown during the storm. The last thing one wants during a possible disaster is to be separated from family, but for medical professionals, duty comes first. This is where the nursing profession stands out from most. How?
Nurses endure unusual circumstances unseen in other professions. They work longer hours. The average shift is 12 hours and in those 12 hours nurses sometimes barely have a lunch or bathroom break. They are tasked with calculating, critical thinking, and reacting quickly in an emergency. During an emergency lockdown like in the case of Hurricane Matthew, a nurse’s endurance is tested. Long hours, lack of sleep, and worry are added stressors. While they are given shelter and rotate shifts, most are unable to sleep while a massive storm is waging just outside.
Nurses devote their lives to their calling. They put their patients first, sometimes even before family and friends. They miss out on holidays, birthdays, and milestones in the service of others. They put themselves in harm’s way, as with hurricanes, sometimes to help others. It is all part of the pledge taken when joining the profession.
A nurse is faced with multitasking, delegating, and managing giant egos on a daily basis. Imagine all of this at the same time and in the middle of an emergency. It’s called resilience and it’s all in a day’s work.
Always On Call
The job is never done. Whether on the clock or not, helping others is part of a nurse’s DNA. Whether it is simply listening to a friend in a time of need or being the first to respond to someone in distress, nurses are always on duty. They willingly volunteer themselves, especially in times of disaster.
In the end, Hurricane Matthew leaves behind devastation in Haiti and unbelievable damage along the southeast coastline of the U.S. Thank you to any and all medical professionals who helped during Hurricane Matthew. They, like nurses, sacrifice their own safety in the service of others. A calling, not a job. Click below if you are interested in volunteering in the clean up and support of your community.
Lori is a travel nurse that has made her way to Sweden. She is also a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher. Follow her adventures working and traveling through Europe in her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”