We are nurses. We are in highly dangerous and volatile units at hospitals. We are not working in a prison. We work in behavioral health. The intensive management unit, the adolescent unit, the dual-diagnosis unit, and the behavioral health emergency department.
We are specially trained to protect ourselves and others with CPI — a mandatory nonviolent crisis intervention training. We have patients who are schizophrenic, bipolar, drug addicts, with assault charges, domestic violence, and rapists.
Again, we are not a prison. Many of these patients come to us angry and hostile, bewildered, voices in their heads to kill, kill themselves or others, and hurt those who have hurt them. They store irrational thoughts, and they lash out randomly.
We have alarms in these units should we feel threatened. We can easily use a phone to call public safety stat. Sometimes it’s too late. Sometimes the patients are random. Nurses and technicians easily can and are assaulted, injured, punched to the ground, beaten on the head.
We end up in the ER ourselves, CT scans to the brain to show concussions, contusions on the head, dizziness, and recurring PTSD of that fist coming at us. Random and unpredictable.
What we are thankful for are our public safety officers. Without them protecting us, it would be mayhem. We easily call them STAT, and they show up to our unit in multitudes.
They protect us from unpredictable assaults. They are trained and professional. A patient will physically attack public safety officers (PSOs) with a vengeance at any given moment.
We cannot stand alone in this environment. Without our PSOs, we would be an unguarded prison. A dangerous, volatile, and unsafe workplace.
We came to work in this nursing profession to help the mentally ill. We did not come to work at a prison. This is a hospital.
PSOs are our lifeline. We are grateful for them.
Their courage. Their protection and their camaraderie.
Thank you, PSOs, for all that you do.
Thank you for our small peace of mind.
This job cannot be done without you.
Debbie Moore-Black is a nurse who blogs at Do Not Resuscitate.
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