It’s been almost two months since the first Covid-19 case in California. As time goes on, the cases are increasing, and more people are dying from respiratory failure. As we navigate during these unprecedented times, no one knows when the surge will hit, when the vaccination/ treatment will be, or when people will stop dying from Covid-19. However, as a registered nurse (RN) on a medical-surgical unit, I know the importance of emergency medical care. As a RN who has been working the frontlines and floating to the definitive observation unit and the designated Covid floor on a weekly basis, I know the importance of advanced life support. As a RN who hears code rapid response team (RRT) or code sepsis being called every day at work, I know the importance of acting quickly to perform life saving measures. I know the importance of making sure I know the steps to correctly assess my patient’s condition. I know the importance of receiving help from team members. As a RN working bedside during the pandemic, I know how quickly a patient’s respiratory status can deteriorate within seconds and how important it is to jump into action to save a life.
In nursing school, I have participated in many code blues situations in simulation lab where we were assigned case scenarios. We had to quickly assess and delegate the duties to save the interactive mannequins life. As soon as the mannequin became pulseless, everyone had a duty that they fulfilled so they didn’t get in each other’s way. After the code was done, we watched ourselves on video to see our mistakes and strengths. This taught us our weaknesses we need to improve on. As a new nurse with her first nursing job, I also participated in practice code blues with my organization where we were put in code blue scenarios. Interactive practice scenarios like these have showed me the urgency and efficiency to a life saving response. By constantly practicing code blue situations or keeping my BLS and ACLS up to date, I immerse myself in emergent situations so that I am well prepared for when it happens in real life. Also, by practicing code blues, you get used to the adrenaline and endorphins that you will feel when the real code blue happens, so it is not a shock to you.
I have always learned best by hands on practice. Therefore, practice code blue scenarios have always been very helpful to me because I can practice my chest compression or respirations. I can practice using the AED and delegating tasks to other team members. Therefore, when I am put in a situation where I need to call a code blue on my patient or assist my coworker, my muscle memory and adrenaline immediately kick in to perform rapid lifesaving care. Fortunately, I have not been put in a real-life code blue situation, but I have been in several RRT’s.
When I hear “Rapid Response” on the intercom, I immediately stop to hear what unit. When I find out that it is on my unit, I look around to locate the patient’s room and immediately head towards the crash cart to bring it with me. If another nurse is already bringing the crash cart, I grab the glucometer, vital signs machine, or just rush into the room to see what I can help my coworkers with. As I rush to the patient’s room, I tell myself, “I do not know what condition I will find the patient in, but I know how to save their life.” I remind myself that I have had extensive training in practice scenarios. I remind myself that I am a registered nurse and I am well equipped to help patients every day from my knowledge, experience, and training. Positive self-talk helps me act quickly and appropriately. When a patient’s condition is declining, time is the most valued. From many practice scenarios, my body goes on autopilot and I use my senses to help assess what is happening and what is needed.
Not every healthcare professional may work in a hospital setting where codes are being called every day, but hands on training and practice scenarios allow us to be educated on life saving measures no matter where we are. For instance, I have made a U-turn in a trafficked road after seeing a truck turned over and citizens trying to remove the people inside. Running to the accident site, I had no idea what I would find. I didn’t know how many people were inside the truck, what condition they were in. I didn’t know if I would find anyone unresponsive and must perform compressions or show other citizens how to run a code. All I knew was that I am prepared to perform any life saving measure needed after my quick assessment. I am prepared to check for a pulse, perform compressions, call for an AED. You never know when you might need to engage in basic life support. It can truly happen anywhere.
That’s why it is very important to be educated on basic life support skills. It is important to receive hands on training, ask questions, and ask help from others. It is important to become comfortable with code blue scenarios and to practice them! It is important to give yourself positive self-talk and reassure yourself that you are certified, and you have what it takes to save someone’s life.