West Indies Ambulance Run

Emergency nursing has always been a passion for me.  I can remember the excitement I felt rotating through MCV’s emergency department as a student nurse.  I’ve always enjoyed a challenge and found the daily uncertainty of an emergency room stimulating.  I have been able to nurture this love for emergency nursing at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital (RWRH) in Gloucester, Virginia.

As most people who deal with emergencies know, teamwork is the key to delivering excellent care.  At RWRH, I am able to provide this standard of care because of the wonderful staff members and physicians I work with daily. 

Recently, I had the pleasure of accompanying several of these colleagues to the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent’s.  Our mission included observation and evaluation of their casualty unit with recommendations to be made to improve their emergency department.  I traveled down there with the thought that I had something to offer these people.  Fortunately I returned with the knowledge that the staff of St. Vincent’s Kingstown Hospital had taught me a great deal more.

In spite of the fact that these people have limited funds and equipment available to them, I observed them giving compassionate and skilled care.  One of my fondest memories will be my participation in a West Indies COR Run.”  I accompanied a nurse and ambulance driver into the hills to pick up a patient who was short of breath.  The Vincentian ambulance driver sped along the hillsides at 75 mph.  I was hanging on for dear life. 

As we turned the corner of one street, a bottle of rum rolled out from under the seat and landed between my feet.  I was getting a little worried and hoped my husband, back in the states, knew where to find my life insurance policy. 

On arrival to the patient’s home I was greeted by fifteen people coming out of a three room shack.  Everyone wanted to ride in the ambulance.  After major crowd control tactics were used, we loaded the patient and returned to Kingstown Hospital again at 70-75 mph.  I tried to obtain a patient history while in the ambulance.

This was discouraged by the ambulance driver who was trying to protect the patient’s privacy.  On arrival back to Kingstown Hospital the patient was treated for mild pulmonary edema.

Looking back at this experience, I chuckle and thank God I made it back to the hospital alive.  I admire the respect the ambulance driver had for the patient’s privacy.  I feel privileged I was allowed to ride with these people.  I know you are wondering what happened to the bottle of rum.  When I asked the driver what he used the rum for he winked at me – oh well, I guess we’ll never know.

Janet Dehoux, RN

Emergency Room, Riverside Walter Reed Hospital


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