Emergency Nurses’ Day is celebrated today, Wednesday October 11, in emergency departments around Australia and indeed the world.
It is held each year to recognise the hard work and dedication of emergency nurses.
They’re a special breed, according to Nurse Unit Manager of Mount Isa Hospital’s Emergency Department, Andrea (Taffy) Wallace.
“Emergency nurses are at the forefront of the health system; they are the first face a patient comes across when entering an emergency department, and often the last face a patient sees when leaving.
“They face daily challenges of verbal and physical abuse, patient adversity and hardship, and the constant battle of access block, however this doesn’t stop them from getting out of bed the next day and doing it all over again.”
Ms Wallace said it is well known in ED that emergency nurses are “a bit different”.
“I think we actually thrive on drama and stress; we actually think they’re a normal part of life.
“Things that make our hearts beat faster are emergencies, obviously, and a code alert; they’re the things that make our days and our jobs worthwhile, especially when we can save a patient, or get them back on the road to recovery.
“As a team, we’re very focused on our patients. They come to ED in all sorts of states and conditions, and it’s up to us to triage them and organise their treatment.”
Ms Wallace said a sense of humour and a strong bladder are essential for emergency nurses.
“We’re often too busy to take a toilet break, let alone a meal break!”
However, even on their days off, emergency nurses cannot quite turn off.
Ms Wallace said it’s not uncommon for emergency nurses, herself included, to mentally diagnose people as they’re walking through a shopping mall, or at an event.
“We must have inbuilt emergency radar, and I think that comes from the responsibility of the position.
“If there is an emergency, and we’re there, we are basically responsible, whether we’re off duty, on holiday, or not feeling too well ourselves.”
Ms Wallace said she was grateful and proud of her team of 48 emergency nurses.
“I want to thank them for their hard work, dedication, service and commitment to their patients and families and their loyalty to the emergency nursing profession.”