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Are Nurses First Responders?
You could be forgiven for thinking that ER nurses and other specialist nurses are first responders, but they are not. These nurses provide care in an emergency medical setting, but they are not the first ones on the scene.
What's more, once the patient arrives at the hospital, their care is overseen and directed by a doctor (also not considered a first responder). Triage nurses may see patients before anyone else, including doctors, but their role is to sort those patients into an order of care and they are not considered to be first responders.
Are Nurses First Responders in a Mass Casualty Incident?
Nurses may be called upon to act as first responders during a mass casualty incident (MCI). These situations are defined as when the demand for medical professionals exceeds the supply. Some of the most recent MCIs have included the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, and the September 11 attacks in New York.
Mass school shootings and other terrorist incidents may also be classified as MCIs. Every year, tens of thousands of people are injured during MCIs and as time is of the essence, governments draw upon every resource that they have, including registered nurses.
Can Nurses Help in an Emergency Situation?
If a registered nurse is at the scene of an accident, either because they witnessed it or were one of the parties involved, they can use their experience to assist the victims and ensure that EMTs, police officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel arrive quickly.
In such cases, however, they are essentially just civilians with extensive medical knowledge. They are not the ones called to that emergency nor do they have the equipment or experience needed to tend to an emergency.
What Are First Responders?
First responders are medical and emergency professionals called to a scene before anyone else. They arrive first and provide necessary emergency care and assistance.
Who is Classified as a First Responder?
Firefighters, police officers, rescue squads, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and paramedics are all classified as first responders.
They have similar medical training to qualified nurses and doctors but their training focuses more on emergency scenes, accidents, disasters, and acts of terrorism. They are trained to provide care on roadsides and in treacherous conditions, as well as in clinical settings. In the case of wilderness first responders, they are trained to work in remote settings and to transport injured patients to hospital even in the absence of emergency vehicles.
Can Nurses Get a First Responder Discount?
As nurses are not first responders, they typically don't qualify for first responder discounts. However, some businesses extend their discount programs to include other members of the healthcare industry, including nurses, doctors, and dispatchers.
During COVID-19, these discounts were commonplace as companies sought to give back to the people who helped to treat and vaccinate millions of Americans.
Summary: Are Nurses First Responders?
Generally speaking, registered nurses are not first responders.
They certainly play a very important role in providing essential healthcare and other assistance, but they are not the first ones on the scene during an emergency and so they don't fall under the umbrella of "first responders".
Registered nurses are front-line health workers. They are a vital link in the healthcare chain. But they are not first responders.
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