How fortunate I am to work alongside real life heroes!
I'm sure you're aware of the devastating tornado outbreak in the Southeast that occurred on Sunday, March 3rd. The National Weather Service says a total of 36 twisters were reported across Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Fourteen of those were concentrated along 50-mile path beginning in the Beauregard community in East Central Alabama and the city of Talbotton in West Central Georgia. Twenty-three people (including four children under the age of 10) were killed (all in the Beauregard area) by the EF-4 beast that experts say was nearly a mile wide and produced wind gusts of nearly 170 mph. While I am eternally grateful that there wasn't a larger loss of life, I personally grieve for and alongside the families touched by tragedy, including a personal friend who lost seven members of her extended family.
Although my hometown received only a glancing blow, I spent Sunday afternoon in my ER watching a pair of teammates struggle to reach and to receive information on family members in the direct path of the storm. My heart ached for them as the fought work responsibilities, busy signals and cell service outages while trying to verify the well-being of their loved ones.
But in the midst of it all, emergency nurses in the area put their heads down and made miracles happen as casualties from the storm began to arrive. The empathy and compassion (along with the stellar patient care) shown by the staffs of Piedmont Columbus Regional's Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, Georgia and the East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Alabama was unfathomable. On behalf of the Georgia State Council and all of Georgia's ENA members, I applaud and appreciate their efforts when their communities needed them the most. Our State Council will be reaching out to these facilities and helping them to celebrate their strong work and the successful outcomes associated with so many of the patients for which they cared.
I am also extremely appreciative of ENA President Patti Howard who personally called the following day to make sure that all in our area was okay. She also graciously offered her help and that of the services of the ENA's Component Relations and Member Engagement staffs if needed.
As is always the case in events like these, our emergency nurses will move forward with debriefs, action plans and better processes because of this terrible experience. That's what we do. That's why emergency nurses are such a special breed. Take a few minutes to stop and tell your teammates that you appreciate them and are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them when your communities need you the most.
I am honored and proud to call you all colleagues and friends.