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  1. #1
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    Can I Get Over Being Helpless in an Emergency Situation?

    I am really, really good with mental health emergencies, but absolutely worthless when there is a physical problem. I do not do blood. That is actually part of how I became a social worker. At an undergrad psych hospital Internship, I had pretty much decided to become a psych nurse as they were doing most of the actual therapy. Then one kid cracked open the head of another kid with a pool ball. I was reminded that psych nursing involved actual nursing. So, I stuck with Social Work.

    I managed to get through all of school without ever dissecting anything. I have never wanted children, so never had to learn to face the gory stuff through all of the normal kid mishaps. I have taken Red Cross First Aid/CPR at least 4 times in my life and feel that I could do a great job if one of those dummies ever has an emergency. A real person? No. In a real medical situation, I panic. A couple of clients have had seizures during the past year. We have also had a couple of choking incidents. I just feel relieved that there are trained medical people on site to deal with the blood and gore. I concentrate on rounding up paperwork, calming other clients, contacting family, assisting paramedics with information, etc. Still, it bothers me that I am not able to help. I also worry about what I would do if there was no medical person there to take over.

    Question? Anyone else ever had this problem and gotten over it? If so, how?

  2. #2
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    I don't have any advice, but it seems like I'm the exact opposite. When it comes to a medical crisis, I keep a really cool head and can take charge without getting squeamish, but when it comes to someone in psychological or emotional crisis, about all I can do is offer a hug and love/support. I'm generally pretty good at advice after the immediate crisis has passed, but in the heat of the moment, I tend to freeze.

  3. #3
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    You DO help in those situations, in your own way. No one is going to be great in all situations (well, except on TV and in their own minds). I can deal with any medical emergency that comes my way, but when my kitty had a seizure earlier this year and I had to decide to put her down, I was a bawling, devastated wreck. To have seen me at the vet that night, you would have had absolutely no faith in my abilities to be a competant and professional critical care nurse; but I am.

    Even among medical professionals, there are people who prefer one kind of nursing to other kinds. For every person who loves working in labor and delivery, there is a person who enjoys geriatric psych; for everyone who works in ER, there is someone who works in a doctor's office. You do what comes naturally to you and what you are good at in an emergency, and that is appreciated and necessary, as much as the actual medical care is. Don't try to make yourself into someone you aren't, and don't put yourself down for not meeting some ideal. You are just fine.
    I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally.~W. C. Fields

  4. #4
    Skating Pairs with Drew
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kasey View Post
    You DO help in those situations, in your own way. No one is going to be great in all situations (well, except on TV and in their own minds). I can deal with any medical emergency that comes my way, but when my kitty had a seizure earlier this year and I had to decide to put her down, I was a bawling, devastated wreck. To have seen me at the vet that night, you would have had absolutely no faith in my abilities to be a competant and professional critical care nurse; but I am.

    Even among medical professionals, there are people who prefer one kind of nursing to other kinds. For every person who loves working in labor and delivery, there is a person who enjoys geriatric psych; for everyone who works in ER, there is someone who works in a doctor's office. You do what comes naturally to you and what you are good at in an emergency, and that is appreciated and necessary, as much as the actual medical care is. Don't try to make yourself into someone you aren't, and don't put yourself down for not meeting some ideal. You are just fine.
    Thank you. I appreciate it. I still do worry though. We don't always have medical staff around. I guess i should be glad that I'm in a suburb where the paramedics show up really fast. I worry about what would do if I was the only one around. Today was one of those days. I also want to be able to be next to a client to provide support by calming talk or holding a hand, but...

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mmscfdcsu View Post
    Thank you. I appreciate it. I still do worry though. We don't always have medical staff around. I guess i should be glad that I'm in a suburb where the paramedics show up really fast. I worry about what would do if I was the only one around. Today was one of those days. I also want to be able to be next to a client to provide support by calming talk or holding a hand, but...
    Perhaps you can talk to the paramedics next time and see if they can ease you into it. I was quite squeamish a few years back, but was lucky to have a nurse friend help me make "little steps" to feeling better about it. Her advice was to focus on what you CAN do, not what you can't. For example, if someone's bleeding, applying pressure helps them AND helps you because you won't see as much blood. Actively encouraging someone to breathe properly is a great help, too.

    I'm pretty comfortable with bleeding now and can communicate much better with 911. For example, if someone's getting shocky, I can tell the dispatcher. I also know and have used the Heimlich. Not much, but enough to hold on until the pros arrive.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  6. #6

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    Ugh, I am SO with you. Aside from the fact that I'm a fainter, I tend to fall completely apart when there's a physical emergency. My husband got clobbered in the head by a falling tree branch a few years ago while we were on a hike, and if he hadn't been able to recover well enough to get out of the woods, I'd probably still be standing there freaking out. I'm not in any profession where this could be an issue, but I still worry about what will happen if I'm in a situation like that with anyone else.
    "Liking this sport is ridiculous, so you’re a little different for liking it, she explained. But you’re allowed to like what you like." - Robert Samuels

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aceon6 View Post
    Perhaps you can talk to the paramedics next time and see if they can ease you into it. I was quite squeamish a few years back, but was lucky to have a nurse friend help me make "little steps" to feeling better about it.
    Good advice. Thank you. I have a great R.N. colleague. We may need to talk this one through.

  8. #8
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    No advice but just to say that there is evidence that some of us are wired differently when it comes to crisis. I know for me blood, guts doesn't bother me in the least. I seem to take control when a crisis happens and then once its over I turn to jelly.

    Talking with professionals in this area such as Doc's, nurses, ER folks may help but I would suggest even some counseling may help.

    We all have "something" that bothers us and a little support never hurts.
    Without fear you cannot find courage

  9. #9
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    Well, there's always the full-immersion method--just jump in. My only physical thing was needles, but once I needed IVs and had to have weekly CBCs I got over it (plus cleaning up spilled blood with bleach is actualy kind of cool.) I don't have children but I do have animals, so tolerance for a wide variety of bodily fluids and blood and chemicals and such is high (though when it comes to humans, I'm totally fine with blood but repulsed by human vomit and most of all by human saliva/drool--needless to say I hate infants) but I don't really do emotional crises. At best, I can do the 'poor dear' thing, at worst I want to just slap them and tell them to suck up.

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