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. Other heroes are usually overlooked by the media. But they can be found in hospitals across America. They are emergency nurses, and they have no agents or entourages.
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"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 that people will ever experience, and they must deal with them with immediate rapport, comfort and human dignity.
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.
To sit with and console the family of a teenager who just died in an automobile accident takes far more strength than any 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.
As an emergency physician for almost 30 years, I can assure you that 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" every day.
Oct. 9 was national Emergency Nurses Day. Please remember how truly special these people are by acknowledging the work and commitment of these professionals. In their world it's "911" every day.
Dr. Charles Nozicka, Medical Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Advocate Condell Medical Center