Letters to the Editor

Hospital staff rallied to respond to incident | Letter

Editor,

Recently, Whidbey General Hospital’s Emergency Department received a call that two rescue helicopters were about to land with seven children and two adults who had flipped their kayaks in turbulent water.

We had no other information about what to expect in the way of injuries, but the quick response across the hospital using incredible teamwork made us ready for any contingency within minutes.

Environmental Services staff responded to the helipad while Emergency Department staff divided the work and the geography so that all of the patients were triaged and had care in progress immediately.

Patient Access staff mobilized their team while OB nurses and their students responded to help. The staff from the Surgery Department made certain we had all of the stretchers needed to accommodate the patients since the Emergency Department already had their usual busy complement of patients who needed care.

The kitchen responded quickly with hot drinks and food to help address the hypothermia. Coincidentally, we had disaster training taking place at the same time and our Emergency Medical Services colleagues and an off-duty Emergency Department nurse came over to assist. They used the skills they had been teaching for this real world situation.

Our social worker was busy on the phone contacting nervous parents, reassuring them and giving them directions.

As always, Dr. Hansen and the Emergency Department physicians were exceptional, balancing technical expertise with a caring attitude.

I cannot begin to describe the pride I felt as I watched our team work. They got scared, shivering kids out of their soaked, cold clothes and into warm blankets while taking their histories and reassuring them.

They soon had smiles replace the fear they felt.

As we thankfully became certain all would be OK, the staff went on to do those little extras that make them so special. A patient-access staff member and Emergency Department technician used hair dryers to deal with all of the wet hair, staff were providing the children with personal cell phones to contact worried parents, and the kids who were not coping well had hands to hold while the remainder of the staff capably cared for the other patients without delay.

We are grateful the kayakers are OK, but I am equally grateful that this community has such a talented and professional team to care for them when they need us.

Thanks to everyone who participated. This is what a great community hospital and a great team looks like.

Well done.

Linda Gipson
Chief Nursing Officer
Whidbey General Hospital

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