Nurses need to be aware how they must respond when caught up in unexpected emergencies, as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) reflects on recent terrorist incidents.
The UK has been caught up in several unforeseen incidents of terrorism in 2017, including the Westminster Bridge attack on 22 March, the bombing of Manchester Arena on 22 May and the London Bridge attack on 3 June. As recently as 17 August, there were multiple people killed after a van drove down Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain.
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To prepare nurses in case of further emergencies, the NMC has provided information for nurses and midwives so they know how best to react.
In a statement, the NMC said: ‘There may be occasions where you find yourself involved in an unexpected incident or emergency away from your normal place of work where people may require care.
‘As a healthcare professional, your first instinct is often to go to the aid of others in need. However, it is important that if you find yourself in an unclear situation you should follow official government guidance to run, hide and tell.’
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‘Run, hide and tell’, is the recommended practice of getting out of the immediate path of danger before contacting authorities, including police and the fire service, about an incident.
‘There is no expectation that you should put your own safety at risk,’ the NMC said. ‘You may be able to help or assist in this type of situation but you should always follow the advice of the emergency services at the scene of an incident or emergency and find a place of safety if told to do so.
‘If you are near or at your place of work, you should always follow your employer’s emergency and major incident planning policies.’
The NMC’s Code makes clear that nurses and midwives must take account of their own safety, the safety of others and the availability of other care options – including paramedics, ambulance crews or military personnel on the scene of an incident or emergency.
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Nurses are reminded to only act within the limits of their own knowledge and competence when assisting at an incident.
Working in emergencies can be highly traumatic for healthcare professionals and nurses are urged to speak to their employer or GP, who should be able to help access appropriate health and counselling services to cope with the impact of witnessing and working through such events.