Guest column: ER Nurses: Real heroes

Dr. Charles Nozicka KidsCare, North Naples Hospital

Every day we read about “heroes” and their amazing feats of courage and strength. Today’s culture emulates entertainers and athletes even with the daily reports of their indiscretions. The sports pages are filled with clutch catches and walk-off home runs this time of year.

Other heroes are usually overlooked by the media. But they can be found in hospitals across America. They are emergency room nurses, and they have no agents or entourages. ER nurses are called to quickly assess and intervene in life-threatening situations day in and day out. They are faced with some of the most intimate situations people will ever experience, and we must deal with these with immediate rapport, comfort and human dignity without having a prior personal relationship.

These people are a special breed. They triage the truly sick from the “walking wounded” with just a glance. Within moments, they will go from comforting a suffering child to saving a heart attack victim’s life, sometimes repeating the cycle several times during a busy shift. They’ll go home carrying many of these encounters with them, only to return to work in 24 hours to repeat the drill with the same professionalism and grace.

It takes men and women of exceptional character to work in the environment of a chaotic emergency department. Working under these conditions is no small feat. To sit with and console the family of a teenager who just died in an automobile accident takes far more strength than that of ny NFL linebacker.

On the more humorous side, you will never find a person who has more stories about quirky human nature, bizarre situations and the drama of human existence than an ER nurse. Many of the things that happen during a shift are stranger than any story or episode of “ER.”

As an emergency physician for almost 30 years, I can assure you there are no finer people on this earth than the nurses who staff our emergency departments. It has been a privilege to work with these “real heroes” everyday.

In their world it’s 9/11 every day.

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