Tips for Storm Ride-Out Nurses

This is a guest post written by Becky H., RN. You can follow her on Instagram: @iwanttoquitmydayjob

She’s been a nurse for the past 7 years and works in critical care. Becky H.spent 4 days at her facility in Houston, Texas during Hurricane Harvey.

Here are her tips for those on storm ride-out teams:

1- Bring a cooler

Be prepared to spend multiple nights in the hospital. Pack your favorite foods and beverages! Don’t forget your fruits and veggies. The hospital may only provide snacks like graham crackers and peanut butter…

2- Bring enough clothes for 4-5 days

It’s better to be prepared. Bring plenty of scrubs and underwear. Many people on my team had to hand wash their clothes in the pink basins cause they didn’t expect to be at the hospital so many nights. Unlike flying, you don’t have to worry about packing less than 50lbs. So, it’s OK to over pack!

3- Bring bedding

I highly recommend you bring an air mattress and your favorite pillows. Bring a piece of home with you! For example, I sleep with 3 pillows so I brought them all and it made me feel more like home. And yes, if you sleep with a teddy bear, bring your teddy bear.

4- Bring things to keep you busy

Bring your laptop or ipad to use during breaks between shifts. It will feel like “camping” with your co-workers so bring some fun games and entertainment.

5- Shower shoes and towel

If you didn’t already notice, hospital showers aren’t like the Ritz-Carlton. Bring your favorite toiletries to compensate for the not so marvelous accommodations.

6- Stay positive

Being away from your home and family during a time of crisis is really difficult. Trust me, I know. Use this time to bond with your co-workers and reflect on your nursing journey. You will come out of this experience a better nurse.

Below is a post by Becky H., RN after being relieved by the recovery team:

If you’ve seen my social media in the last few days, it’s obvious that in the stress and exhaustion of the weekend, I have been able to have some laughs and provide some laughs (adrenaline can make you do some crazy things). As I woke up (in my own bed) this afternoon, I couldn’t help but think “Damn, I wish I was back at work.” No, I don’t have Stockholm syndrome, but I missed my work family, my team, my ride-or-dies. If you asked me last night how I felt about going back to work today, I would have said “too soon, I need a break from these people, these fluorescent lights, and am overdue for some ME TIME!” Disasters can bring out the best or the worst in people- for my coworkers, it brought out the best this Harvey weekend. I did not hear one complaint come out of my crews mouth regarding the conditions. We persevered and came together like nothing I have ever seen before. Special shout out to our unit secretary, Liz, who is 38 weeks pregnant, slept on a stretcher for 4 nights and never complained once. Now, I’ve never been pregnant but from what I hear, I can imagine that ain’t comfy. We were sharing everything from food to floss. Male coworkers, who I have only known in a professional manner saw me in my pjs, with my morning hair, and retainer. We were bonded in a new way that no one can ever recreate.

People give nurses shade for only working 3 days a week (12 hr shifts), but it’s weekends like these that you realize it’s so much more. I have never been more proud to call myself a nurse. To be there to provide comic relief to my crew, and give a hug/free cup of coffee to my dying patients wife who just found out from her son that water was entering her home, was an honor. The ability to provide someone with a smile and a glimmer of hope about their loved one in this trying time is truly rewarding. To see multiple coworkers (nurses, NPs, RTs, unit secretaries) finding out about their flooded homes and continuing to do their job, like nothing was wrong was incredible. These moments make you realize what is important in life, and that not all heroes wear capes.

Our awesome unit management adequately staffed us all weekend because of their quick decisions to call people in when they did. I know making big decisions for a hospital is not easy. Knowing that our executives and higher ups were having to make major decisions regarding disaster protocols while also dealing with their own disasters in their personal life (family members safety, home safety, pet care, child care, etc) further proves we are HUMAN. I have realized this weekend, more than ever, that we make mistakes and your damned if you do, your damned if you don’t when making critical/game time decisions. So thank you, for coming through for the “little people” of the hospital in the end and making us feel that our concerns were heard.

Now, able watch the news for a consistent amount of time, I am also so proud to call myself a Houstonian. Seeing how this city has come together in a time of turmoil is incredible. Stories like a Walmart owner opening it’s doors in the peak time of the flooding for police personnel to gather resources for free, or seeing multiple of my friends with boats on the front lines rescuing people. Not to mention the amount of friends I have seen getting out of their dry homes and going to volunteer at the shelters. I have to give a shout out to my Dallas and Fort Worth friends, who have kick started gathering supplies from their communities and sending them down to Houston too. It is amazing what we can accomplish if we all participate and give what we can, so thank you.

Thank you to our first responders. Doing my job from the comfort of a hospital is easy compared to what y’all are doing on the front lines. Thank you to the news anchors and meteorologists for tirelessly keeping everyone informed around the clock. Thank you to the volunteers who came to our units to help with anything from emptying trash cans to helping reposition patients. Thank you to the restaurants who donated food for the entire hospital staff through the weekend. It’s amazing what a hot meal can do to ones psyche. 

And thank you to Houston as a city. People are saying it could take several months to even years to rebuild this place, but we will persevere. We may be broken now, but we are feisty– look out!

Stay safe out there.
With love,
Becky H., RN

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