Evolution of a Trauma Nurse.

Being a registered nurse for 18 years in the fields of Emergency Medicine and Flight Nursing has given me a unique perspective on traumatic injuries. I choose my profession for the reasons that you would probably expect…. To help people recover from serious injuries and illnesses and to save lives. I recall one weekend in particular while in the ER that led to a change in how I helped people. I had cared for seven trauma patients as a result of motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) over that two day period. Five of those were young people between the ages of 16 and 25. In caring for them I was happy to have had conversations with each of them as that meant that their injuries although severe, were not life threatening. They had lacerations, broken bones, concussions, and bruised egos but no life threatening injuries. Every one of them was smart enough to put on their seatbelts which no doubt kept them from sustaining serious injury and probably saved their lives. We talked about their jobs, their families, college and their car crash. “What do you remember about the crash” I’d ask each of them in part to evaluate for head injuries. All five had something in common other than wearing their seatbelts. They had all used their cell phones just before their crash! I thought to myself that cell phones played some part in over half of my trauma patients this weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn’t totally surprised by that number. In fact I half expected that the majority of my patients from MVCs were using a cell phone or had some other distraction that contributed to their trip to the ER. I did however have a moment of clarity that weekend. That the injuries of all of those young people were preventable! I had helped “fix” broken bodies for 18 years but I had done little to fix the problem that caused them to be broken. That weekend gave me the motivation to become involved in efforts to educate young people on the dangers of distracted driving. I spoke to drivers ED classes on my experiences as a nurse in the ER and how a simple choice could mean the difference between enjoying a weekend with their family and friends to one laying in the ER with bruises and broken bones, or worse. I enjoyed the idea of preventing injuries so much that I became a full time prevention specialist at a Level One Trauma Center. In the past 3 years I have spoken to over 7,500 young people about the dangers of distracted driving. And although I will never know for sure, I hope my efforts have prevented a few trips to the ER! Dan Freeman RN, MSN

Filed Under: Distracted Driving