Tuesday night May 29th was a normal busy night at work, I remember that. I remember getting home at 0800 Wednesday morning and in my normal routine I walked the dog, caught up on a few podcasts, and took care of all of those home chores that needed to be done. I was in bed by 9 in the morning.
I woke up at 330 in the afternoon on Wednesday May 30th to a city that was being terrorized by gun fire. In two separate incidences; 1 just blocks from where I live and the other blocks from where I work, the lives of 5 innocent people were taken by 1 individual.
Returning to work that night the shock and disbelief was visible in the faces of my day shift co-workers and the visitors at the hospital that had watched it all unfold on the news.
Car accidents, heart attacks, and strokes can strike you or someone you love at any moment and change the focus of your life forever. Instantly your priority shifts from living to trying not to die.
As a nurse, it is very easy to empathize with patients and families as they work through and grieve after freak accidents and health scares. It is somehow easier to wrap your mind around these tragedies, even if they don’t seem fair or reasonable, and work to guide patients and families through them by establishing care goals and outcomes based treatment.
Random acts of violence are different. They are unreasonable and unfair from every aspect. As I padded around my house getting ready for work last Wednesday, I had tears in my eyes for the innocent people having coffee or simply working when they had their safety and security shattered and for their families and friends whose lives were changed forever.
That night at work I got to thinking about the people who witnessed this violence as well as the nurses, doctors, EMTs, and Paramedics that responded and worked without hesitation to try to save the lives of the victims. How do we support, help, and protect them (and each other) when it feels like violence is exploding? I don’t know the answer to this question. It’s complicated and multi-faceted but I think it’s important to talk about. Is there anything that your coworkers, unit, or hospital do to emotionally and mentally support staff who respond to these random, tragic situations?
If you are in Seattle on June 7th there is a fundraiser at the Paramount Theater for the families of the victims that lost their lives and to raise money for Cafe Racer.
Check out caferacerlove.org for information on how to donate as well as other fundraising events around Seattle.
In dedication to the victims-
Gloria Koch Leonidas
and to Leonard Meuse, for the hopes of a full and complete recovery