By: Christine Loch
Imagine you’re a nurse. It’s the middle of the night and you’re catching up on paperwork and charting. The chore feels endless, and you’ve never felt more exhausted. Then comes the dreaded call: “Code Blue, Third floor”! Your community hospital springs into action as code team members—nurses, physicians, lab technicians—respond to the unwelcome invitation. They congregate around a hospital bed and react with well-orchestrated skill as a patient fights for their life.
As a registered nurse and respiratory therapist, I no longer work the bedside, but after years of working in intensive care units and on emergency response teams, my memories of these scenes are still vivid. I recall the physical and emotional burden of this work. But I also think of the indelible legacy of the code teams who saved so many lives by providing the all-too-familiar rhythmic percussions and respirations of CPR. With CPR and AED Awareness week beginning on June 1 and running through June 7, I took some time to reflect on all the times I’ve personally witnessed these skills save lives.
There was never a time when my focus and concentration ran deeper, and I never felt a more unifying sense of teamwork and compassion among my fellow team members than when we strived to save a life. Never was there a sound that provided more relief and joy to us than the rhythmic EKG beeps signaling a restored heartbeat.
The coordination of care toward a successful outcome is not an accident—it’s the result of education and training based on decades of research. The good news is that you and any layperson can tap this body of knowledge to advance your preparedness skills. When someone experiences a potentially fatal cardiac event, it’s often the actions taken in the first critical moments that make the difference between life and death. In such a dreaded scenario, you could be the person who saves the life of a family member, an acquaintance, or even just a fellow human being on the street.
Here’s where the American Red Cross comes in: By taking a Red Cross course in First Aid or CPR and AED (Automated External Defibrillator), you play a critical role in giving a head start to our first responders and healthcare heroes.
As my fellow healthcare workers continue to humbly bear the honor and privilege to be with patients during their most vulnerable hours, let us take a moment to not only reflect on the courageous and selfless acts of our hospital teams, but also seek to understand how we can support their efforts.
Within you is a healthcare hero whose actions could save a life. You never know when a family member, friend, or even stranger may be next to you in their time of need. Take the time today to become certified in CPR/AED. You can do it from the comfort of your own home—many different courses in lifesaving skills are offered entirely online. Visit redcross.org/takeaclass for a current listing.