Last week, the entire world watched in horror as an earthquake followed by a tsunami struck Japan. Each day, we've hear news about the death toll, those who are still missing, the extent of the damage, the danger of radiation leaks, and our hearts break for the Japanese people.
As nurses, we have all had "bad" days at work, but can you even imagine what things must be like for healthcare personnel who work in affected areas? Today, I read a story
of a worker in a nursing home that was hit by the tsunami. This woman, who had to have feared for her own life, shared her account of caring for elderly with severe dementia in a facility filled with murky sea water on the lower floor. Even though there was no electricity or lighting, the staff helped to comfort the frightened patients and attended to their most basic needs. Luckily, the staff and residents were rescued by emergency crews over the weekend, and no one was hurt.
The story reminded me of hearing about nurses working in similar conditions after Hurricane Katrina. When I read news about the heroic actions of nurses and other healthcare professionals, I truly feel proud to be a nurse.
And as nurses, we want to help others. It's in our blood. As a student nurse in 2001, I wished I had the ability to care for the victims of the September 11 attack. In 2005, I wanted to rush down to the Gulf to help all the emergency workers care for those who were struck by Katrina. Now, traveling to Japan is not really practical for me. But I think that for those who want to help, the best thing we can do is give money. The Red Cross
is a reputable charity, who is providing help to the Japanese...and also helps Americans at home. In times like this, you may be wondering what else you can do to help others. Another suggestion would be to donate blood. Even if it will not affect tsunami victims, it will be sure to help people where you live, and blood is always in short supply.
Another thing you might think about is, what is your own disaster plan? I know I get into the mindset that disasters happen to other people, not me. Just last summer, we all ran to our basement during a tornado warning. We lost power, and do you think we had a single candle or flashlight in our basement? But a disaster plan is more than just having the supplies you need on hand in case the unthinkable happens. It's also a good idea to map out a plan so that family members can connect with each other should communications become difficult. You might consider checking out this site
...sorry, it's from FEMA. I know they don't have the best reputation...but I'm sure this information is useful.
So for now, I hope that you stay safe, get prepared, and keep the disaster victims in your thoughts and prayers.