Student nurse Abbie Jobbling trained and prepared as well as anyone possibly could, but even then found her first resuscitation experience was much tougher than she expected.
One of the first skills you will be taught in any nursing degree is Basic Life Support (BLS), what to do in an emergency and the basics of CPR.
With the many chances to practice your CPR on the resus Anne dolls, the countless times you’ve gone over the guidelines and many times you’ve thought about what you would do and what would happen in this situation, you are still never prepared for the real thing in an A&E resus.
My first experience happened so fast. It was strangley calm - everyone was quiet as we waited, the crash-call received two minutes prior. Everyone and everything needed ready in one room.
I was approached by my mentor (who remembered I had asked to go to a crash call if possible). She briefly explained what was happening, and asked if I wanted to go.
A million thoughts rushed through my head. Mainly fear, however I decided to go. I walked down with the matron who gave me some preparation on the way.
“This wasn’t a simulation. This wasn’t us messing around in our lessons. This wasn’t a trial run. This was REAL.”
I walked into the room and stood in the corner to observe. This is where I expected to stay, but it quickly became clear that I was also a spare part, able to rush out and get anything that was required. I was sent to pick up various items, and as I returned through a side door with a waste bag of all things, the ambulance crew entered the main door.
This is the point it became real to me. This wasn’t a simulation. This wasn’t us messing around in our lessons. This wasn’t a trial run. This was REAL.
In front of me was a little boy less than a year old. The crash call given was for drowning. I caught a glance of the mother as the doors swung shut. This is REAL.
Suddenly this still and quiet room burst into action, everyone had their jobs and they were performing like a programmed machine. Before I knew it, the time keeper shouted two minutes. Had it already been two minutes?!
“The amazing support of the staff helped me learn from this experience and helped me through it”
The next 10 minutes were a blur for me. When the nurse on compressions asks to swap, the matron said my name, and I looked up at her, trying to hide the fear from my face, “Abbie would you like to swap?”
Despite being terrified I agreed and prepared to swap in. Two steps up the foot stool, 3…2…1 swap, I took over chest compressions. This was terrifying, was I doing them correctly? What if I do it wrong? This is a real child. Why are there so many tubes? Don’t cry you have a job to do.
Next thing I feel a tap on my back and 3…2…1 swap, from this point onwards I joined the rotation of staff doing chest compressions.
We were in the room for just over an hour. Unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts, we were unsuccessful. All non-essential staff were asked to leave so that we could bring the parents in. I walked out the door into a staff only area where at least three nurses were already crying, this inevitably set me off.
The amazing support of the staff helped me learn from this experience and helped me through it.
It was amazing to see how every team member was so important, from the biggest to the smallest of tasks everyone was so valued within that team. As sad and terrifying as it was, the experience has prepared me for my future.
Abbe Jobbling is a third year student nurse studying at the university of Hertfordshire