Inside the Bedrails

At yesterday’s Chapter Presidents Luncheon, we learned that after spending 30 years in the Air Force Nurse Corps, AACN board member Elizabeth Bridges is no stranger to treating traumatic injuries. She knows firsthand that tourniquet placement and hemostatic dressings used on the battlefield can save lives if done properly.

Bridges was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 as a research scientist and critical care nurse, and she witnessed the incredible. Bridges recalled, “Teams of healthcare providers from all three services, not knowing one another, were put together as part of a regime of care, an extraordinary responsibility that allowed us to bring our wounded warriors home.”

As we’ve seen all-too-often bombings and mass shootings can happen right in our backyards. On April 15, 2013, two bombs detonated near the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Guest speaker Jessica Kensky went from oncology nurse to double amputee.

Through delirium, intubations and excruciating pain, her thoughts wandered, this time from behind the bedrails. “My nursing training instinctively kicked in,” Kensky says. I thought of things like unmatched blood, rapid fluid resuscitation, risk for bleeding and infection related to traumatic blast injuries. I even requested a foley.”

But through it all, she was most grateful for her nurses, whose small gestures helped her feel a little more comfortable through the pain. “These gestures of consideration and kindness were infused into each and every shift. I always felt like I was the most important thing to them in that moment.”

Each attendee received a signed and “pawtographed” copy of her new children’s book, “Rescue & Jessica,” a tribute to the life she now loves with her service dog, Rescue.

One Response

  1. Valerie Fernald says:

    This presentation was so inspiring and moving. I was mesmerized by Jessica’s story of survival and appreciation for her nurses. It really makes us remember that the patient is a person and we need to care for their emotional as well as physical needs.
    Elizabeth’s presentation was very inspiring as well and I appreciate her service and commitment to military nursing! Thank you for sharing these speakers with us at the Chapter President’s luncheon! I was honored to be able to attend!