A major incident is something all organisations have planned and prepared for, but hope they will never have to contend with.
Yet, internationally, so many of our hospitals around the globe are doing so these days, as a result of the wave of terrorist attacks that are striking at the heart of major cities, leaving large numbers of severely injured casualties and fatalities.
Multiple pile-ups and road traffic accidents, public buildings collapsing and explosions all can happen and disrupt a normally busy hospital’s day and throw the best-rehearsed plans into mayhem – and yet staff are able to prioritise, cope under pressure, deliver to a new plan and care for people under the most extreme circumstances.
“Often nurses, doctors and paramedics are running to the scene of terror”
But of course, being on hand to care for victims in the midst of a terrorist attack throws in yet another challenge to be overcome – fear. Like the other emergency services, often nurses, doctors and paramedics are running to the scene of terror, chaos and danger, while the public are running from it.
So no words can pay enough tribute to the skill and bravery of nurses and other healthcare professionals in incidents such as the bombing in Manchester this week, and in Westminster a couple of months ago. These healthcare professionals deserve our gratitude, our respect and our thanks for their selflessness, and for their ability to provide care, comfort and compassion when people need it most.
“These healthcare professionals deserve our gratitude”
It is difficult to comprehend how a major incident can affect a hospital and its staff, but having listened to Carol Porter at our Nursing Times Directors’ Congress a couple of years ago – who was chief nurse at the New York hospital at the time of the September 11 attacks – it is clear that nothing can prepare you for a tragedy on that scale. And yet time and time again, we see that nurses, doctors and other allied health professionals, somehow manage to process that, and find a way to do their jobs, and do them well.
That takes skill, courage, dedication and something we don’t talk about that much – grit. And it deserves our recognition, applause and respect.