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New Zealand: How Wellington's duty nurses stepped up during the earthquake by Idowu Olabode : November 25, 2016, 03:19:17 PM
It was two hours and 45 minutes after the quake when the baby arrived.

Kathy Knowles had just organised a plumber to tend to some flooding in radiology, when she checked in on maternity.

"The midwife said, Kathy, you need to stay, we're having a baby," Knowles, a duty nurse at Kenepuru Hospital, said.

Knowles had finished her handover to overnight duty nurse Bee Rutledge when the midnight quake began to rattle through the hospital in Porirua.

"We braced ourselves on either side of the corridor and at one point I said, 'this is our big one, Bee'."

By 2.47am, Knowles had been on the floor just shy of 12 hours when she saw the drama unfolding in the maternity ward.

Amid such disturbance, the baby arrived pink and began crying – a perfect arrival, "and another person we had to look after".

"Looking at this tiny baby reminded me of the weight and vulnerability of what we were dealing with."

Each night at Kenepuru, the on-duty nurse is single-handedly responsible for up to 200 patients. At Wellington Hospital, that can jump to 400.

There's no typical shift, but an earthquake was a curve ball no one expected.

There was only about 18 staff members in Kenepuru at the time of the quake so it was all hands to the plough for orderlies, doctors and nurses.

"I spoke to a nurse who had just come from the toilets absolutely shaking and crying," Rutledge said.

"All she wanted to do was get back to Porirua, but she put her big girl boots on and got out there and got on with the show.

"And I think that's the temerity of nurses in general, we just got on with the show."

There were no meal breaks, just rushed cups of tea, sips of water and intermittent updates on the outside world from RNZ via an old transistor radio.

"To me the initial thing was the incredible noise I heard," Wellington Hospital duty nurse Jinty Graham said.

Graham was just beginning her night shift but, just like in Porirua, her handover nurse still hadn't gone home.

"Like most Kiwis, I think we were initially a bit ho-hum about it, but within a few seconds we were both under the desk."

She stuck her hand out and grabbed a cellphone and rang family. "I knew I wasn't going to be getting home any time soon."

The first job was to organise a plumber to fix a burst pipe which had flooded an empty area of the paediatric ward.

"Then I was in emergency management for about an hour, ringing all the wards and departments and getting updates from ED."

Wellington Hospital's emergency department saw about 20 patients arrive in the first hour after the quake with minor injuries, "the odd crushed finger from something that had fallen".

When the sun came up, the nurses returned home in wonder of what damage lay in store. But, like the hospitals, their homes had taken the rattle fine.

Source : Stuff

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