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2 Emergency Room Episodes It is hard to imagine how health care was provided and emergencies were handled, if at all, during the early years of our nation, especially in rural communities, small towns, and remote backcountry areas. Due to the lack of doctors, nurses, and hospitals in those areas, healing was at times successfully provided by locals using folk remedies. Disastrous injuries, difficult births, and other emergencies often resulted in physical disability or death. Thus, as local health care became more readily available, with better access to doctors, nurses, and midwives, life became more satisfactory and productive. Most of the stories in this chapter describe cases in which a patient likely would not have survived without medical services; some didn’t. These accounts describe some of the wide range of challenges nurses have to contend with, from handling violent, confused, and inebriated patients, to dealing with uncertainties and mistakes, to managing patients’ family members and doctors, to the speed and volume of the work, to witnessing death and the outcome of tragic accidents. Virtually all these stories illustrate the importance of emergency rooms and their staff in Kentucky hospitals. Nurse Rides on Patient’s Back When I was working in an emergency room in Louisville I was triaging a man who was slightly nuts. He told his name and said he was a Civil War veteran. He had been off his meds for a while and was a little psychotic. The secretary was sitting at her desk and I was taking his blood pressure when all of a sudden he jumped out of the chair and flung himself at the secretary, grabbed her around the neck, and started choking her. The emergency room doctor was about forty years old and weighed maybe 120 pounds and was about five feet and three inches tall. We were all trying to get this fellow under control without success. Security persons were also there. The emergency room doctor jumped on his 30 Tales from Kentucky Nurses back and started saying to this fellow that he was going [down]. Well, this fellow was running around like a bronco trying to shake the doctor off his back. That fellow was about six feet and five inches tall and weighed about 250 pounds. It was the funniest sight you’ve ever seen with that little woman riding on that huge man’s back and telling him he was going down. We did eventually get him down but it took large doses of Haldol and Thorazine injections through his clothes with that doctor on his back! Marilyn Kaye Montell, Louisville, August 1, 2010 Dealing with a Naked Man Another time . . . I was out front in triage when all of a sudden a naked man came running out of the doors from the monitor room where we kept all the heart patients. He had been brought in by ambulance and had escaped from the back of the ambulance, stripped naked, and was trying to get away. He was high on drugs and alcohol. Where I was located, out front, was where the family and patients waited to visit or be seen by the doctor. There was a huge picture window in the waiting area and it was daylight outside. Well, he came running out through the window that just had an opening. Just as he hit the window he bounced off like a bird and then ran out the door as naked as a jaybird, with the emergency room nurses right behind him trying to catch him. It was so funny when he got outside to the highway and cars started hitting their breaks and blowing their horns. Finally the police got him, put his clothes back on him, and brought him back in for treatment. Marilyn Kaye Montell, Louisville, August 1, 2010 The Miracle One of the scariest parts of being a nurse is the unknown as to what will happen next. Of course, during my many years of being a nurse I never felt totally 100 percent confident that I was going to have a great night on the twelve-hour night shifts. I had a good reason to feel that way during many nights, but one I recall stands out in my mind. I arrived at work at 7:00 p.m. and started getting a report from the other shift. I was told that my ICU [intensive care unit] patient was Emergency Room Episodes 31 really sick but she was doing better. She had...


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MARC Record
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