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Special day for emergency nurses


ED Nurses Day celebrates dedicated workers who save lives from immediate danger.

Seeing the smiling face of a woman whose husband had been rushed into the emergency department with a life-threatening cardiac condition just days earlier reaffirmed to Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) clinical nurse Andrew Douglas why he loves his job.

Andrew, a Level 2 nurse who has worked in the hospital’s emergency department since 2002, says it is a fast-paced and demanding environment but cases such as this make it extremely rewarding.

“A man in his 60s recently came into the department with chest pain – he had ventricular tachycardia, his heart was beating rapidly,” he said. “We were desperately trying to get his heart out of the fast-beating rhythm and he was losing consciousness.

“We used a defibrillator to shock him and get his heart back to a normal rhythm. He was then sent off to the catheter lab to have a stent inserted.

“A few days later I was dropping my two-year-old son off at kindy and the receptionist recognised me. She was the wife of the man we had helped to save.

“A lot of the time you see and treat people and never hear of them again, but it was very special to see this woman and how grateful she was, and to know the man was back with his wife and grandchildren.”

Douglas and other ED nurses across Australia will be recognised for their hard work and dedication to saving people’s lives on ED Nurses Day – Wednesday, October 9.

Andrew is one of 160 ED nurses at FMC, and 90 at the nearby Noarlunga Hospital (NH), who work to improve the lives of people who come into their care. Each year, the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, which includes FMC and NH, sees more than 114,000 people come through the doors of its emergency departments – an average of 312 a day.

In recent years, Andrew has taken on more of a clinical education role and earlier this year introduced the FMC ED Clinical Simulation Program.

“The main purpose is to improve communication and teamwork amongst ED nurses and doctors in the resuscitation rooms,” he says. “We might have a high acuity trauma case; for example, someone who has been involved in a high-speed motor vehicle accident, which requires collective medical and nursing problem solving.

“It’s a safe learning environment and a really great way for nursing and medical staff to think on their feet about what they would do if a similar scenario were to come through the door.”

Whilst Andrew recognises that not all patients who come into the ED will have a good outcome, he knows training and education will equip staff with the skills to provide the best care possible.

“Through good quality education and training we can work hard to improve patient outcomes and make every effort to improve the life of the patient and their family.”

And despite the demands of the job he wouldn’t trade it for any other.

“Our job has many demands, getting patients into the ED, getting patients into the wards and managing our own patient load on a day-to-day basis – it’s a lot to juggle.

“We get to meet all kinds of people from all walks of life and we have a really close-knit group of staff who work in an intense and at times stressful environment. But when you help someone it’s very satisfying and that’s what I love about my job.”

Southern Adelaide Local Health Network CEO Belinda Moyes said ED nurses were highly deserving of a day of recognition.

“ED nurses are highly skilled and work tirelessly to provide a high level of care to a large number of patients for a wide variety of illnesses and injuries,” Moyes said. “They are usually the first faces our patients see when they come into the ED and it is their care and compassion that the community relies upon in times of need.

“ED nurses at Flinders Medical Centre and Noarlunga Hospital will be treated to an afternoon tea [on ED Nurses Day] as recognition for their hard work and dedication.”

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