Consociazione Nazionale Associazioni Infermieri

Bruxelles: a story of 2 nurses describes the commitment of nurses, a profession making the difference.

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When people run for their life, army/police, fireman/women, health professions move into the zone of disaster!
On 22 march, we woke up early to take the train to Schuman. Kostas always walks to the EFN office, and comes near to Maelbeek metro station. Fatima takes the tram to Midi station, and then the metro to Troon, close to the EFN office. But 22 March, it was different. My train stopped suddenly in Schuman. Fatima’s metro stopped far away from Troon and walked to the office. Kostas saw that Maelbeek was not as always. I started sending sms’, where are you, go to a safe place! Fatima told me immediately, Gaetan (her husband) is on its way to Maelbeek for emergency nursing, as the THON Hotel EU, turned into triage hotel. Heidi called me as she followed CNN and knew I was in an extremely dangorous environment, she was so scared losing me! In the long run, we all got safely home with our PCs’. Yes! with our PCs’!, as we knew very well we would not return to Brussels the following days. We were all safe, that was the most important.
In meantine, our colleagues took over at the hot spot. Here the stories of two brave nurses, Gaetan and Maty, I believe you should read:

Maty - Works at St. Pierre hospital - Intensive Care Unit: “We lived a terrible day yesterday... We remained professional, efficient! Everything was ready to receive the victims very heavily attained, coming back from the operating room. We all stayed till the end. We needed to stay with our colleagues, our professional family. We supported each other because we couldn’t reach our families. We dried our tears and worked, worked and worked... Today, I think of those who still don’t have news of a family member, a friend, a colleague! Say to your beloved ones that you love them, every day....”

 Gaetan – Nurse - Intensive Care/Emergency:
“This Tuesday 22 March 2016, when going to work, I was informed by the radio that an explosion had just occurred at the Brussels airport. Quickly news become worrying. Rumours of terrorist attack rise and a climate of terror falls down on the city. I am serene as regards the full assistance and medical means put in place since the Paris attacks. Less than an hour later the drama, I am informed that a new explosion took place in the metro, right in the centre of Brussels, just a step away from the European Commission. Given the extent of the disaster, I have the feeling that it is the one event too much. I take my car and drive through the city at high speed …

When I arrive there, it is chaos… I am just ten meters’ away from the catastrophe. I decide to set up the Medical Advanced Post with the doctor who coordinates all means on the site. Hastily, we clear the tables and chairs, with the hotel staff… the first victims arrive with the firefighters... suffering of severe burns, blasted, shocked… The equipment is not yet there… the victims are laying down on the ground… and sorted according to the seriousness of their lesions… U1 U2 U3… we determine zones for every category of victims… The medical devices finally arrive… we are 4 nurses present in the medical post before the arrival of reinforcements. We put perfusions non-stop… we relieve pain with morphine… it is the same syringe for several victims… we put masks with oxygen, packs to protect and relieve burns… face, hands, body…

We are cut from the outside world… surrounded by the police present for perimeter containment, rescue vehicles siren non-stop… We work tirelessly… there are nursing students present as first-aid workers for the Red Cross, helping us… We are all looking at each other, a smile, a wink to support each other… when is this going to finish… the victims continuously arrive… We make our maximum to coordinate the Medical Advanced Post, to relieve the victims, to bring comfort.

Personally, I did not think… I had to help… help! be a link in this assistance chain…

I only digested and realised the scale of the catastrophe in the evening, in front of television … We talk about it amongst us… and now, it is a feeling of anger and incomprehension. And I will still be there if it would happen again… it is part of my beliefs. My training and my experience helped me to respond appropriately and proactively …”

The day after, you do not want to listen to any news, anymore. It is all too much information. But more important are the EFN members messages, unbelievable! You feel what solidarity means. You know, understand priorities. Unbelievable!

We express our sincere thanks and gratitude to all your support and solidarity. At that moment you just feel the strength of nurses!

 Happy Easter and a big hug!

Thanks for all the solidarity messages!

 Fatima, Kostas, Paul


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