Nurses do what they do because they want to help people. But there is an added dimension when a natural disaster hits the area you also reside in — whether you are on assignment in a new location or it is your hometown.
Whatever the cause — tornado, flood, hurricane, wild fire, tsunami, etc. — providing care and comfort to a community during and throughout the aftermath of a natural disaster can be especially challenging. A nurse must remain strong, managing his or her own fear for their own welfare, as well as the welfare of their family, patients, and colleagues.
A brand new nurse “and I mean brand new — took NCLEX and got my license last week-type new” recently shared her story on AllNurses.com of getting through a night of severe weather in a small hospital in northeast Nebraska. The area, covering an approximately 60-mile zone from Stanton, NE, to Sioux City Iowa, was ravaged by twin tornados and other severe weather this June. The small town of Pilger, Nebrask, essentially wiped off the map, but for debris, was just one decimated example of the storm’s ferocity.
It was during this storm that this brand new nurse, who posted under the handle angie2927, was doing some training at her new job. Tornado warnings are common enough in the region, so she wasn’t too alarmed at first. But then, as hospital staff were called in to prepare for casualties, she writes, “Suddenly, things started getting serious.”
“The more experienced nurses knew what they were doing and what their assignments were,” she continued. “Some went to the scene to conduct triage, others were preparing treatment rooms, and still others had to ensure that proper care was being taken of the patients already in our facility. I ended up in the front entryway helping families who didn’t know where their loved ones were or what their condition was.”
The new nurse was desperately worried about her own children, who were at daycare. She writes about comforting and caring for others while worrying about her own loved ones. Even though she’s very new on the job, this nurse shared that she had already learned about a very hard part of nursing:
“Nurses are the people who take care of other people’s families even when they are desperately worried about their own.”
Have you ever been caught in natural disaster? What did you do to provide care and comfort as a nurse while also experiencing the situation on a personal level? Share your stories of bravery in the comments!