It is “essential” nurses first assess their environment and ensure it is safe before they respond to unexpected incidents or emergencies, such as the recent terror attacks, according to the regulator.
There is “no expectation” that registrants should put their own safety at risk in such situations, said the Nursing and Midwifery Council in guidance published on its website.
“It is essential that you first assess your environment and ensure it is safe for you”
Following this year’s terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, as well as other parts of Europe, the NMC said it was providing information on responding to “unexpected incidents or emergencies”.
The regulator noted that there may be occasions “where you find yourself involved in an unexpected incident or emergency away from your normal place of work where people may require care”.
“Your first instinct is often to go to the aid of others in need,” it said, but added that it was important to follow government guidance to run, hide and tell if registrants found themselves in an “unclear situation”.
“It is essential that you first assess your environment and ensure it is safe for you,” said the NMC. “If it is not, you should move to a place of safety.
“You should then ensure that you or someone close to you has contacted the emergency services,” it said. “Only then should you consider providing care if it is safe to do so.”
“You should not be afraid to seek support from your employer or your GP”
The NMC highlighted that the code of conduct made it clear that nurses and midwives “must take account of their own safety, the safety of others and the availability of other care options” on the scene, such as paramedics, ambulance crews or military personal.
“You may be able to help or assist in this type of situation but you should always follow the advice of the emergency services at the scene of an incident or emergency and find a place of safety if told to do so,” it stated.
“If you are near or at your place of work, you should always follow your employer’s emergency and major incident planning policies,” it added.
Meanwhile, the regulator emphasised that it was important for nurses and midwives to only act within the limits of their “knowledge and competence”.
However, it also said that, while not all healthcare professionals were qualified first aiders, they might be able to support the emergency services or those injured or distressed in “other ways”.
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In addition, the NMC pointed out that working in emergencies could be “highly traumatic for healthcare professionals”.
“You should not be afraid to seek support from your employer or your GP who should be able to help you access appropriate health and counselling services to cope with the impact of witnessing and working through such terrible events,” it said.
The advice, published on 16 August, comes in the wake of the death of Kirsty Boden, a nurse working at Guy’s Hospital, who was killed while going to the aid of victims of the knife attacks in the London Bridge area in June.
As previously reported, the Royal College of Nursing has also issued its own guidance advising nurses that they should ensure their own safety before acting as a first responder in a terrorist incident.