Nurses are the most honored and trusted profession in the United States. A Gallup poll shows that 84% of Americans – four out of every five – rank nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as “high” or “very high”. In fact, nurses have held the number one spot on the list every year for twenty years, with only one exception (in 2001 when firefighters were ranked number one after 9/11).
Being a nurse is not something they leave behind when their shift ends. Nurses are nurses all day, every day and all night. They are nurses when they are on the subway, walking in the park, at home with their children and at the theater. They are nurses whether or not they are wearing their scrubs, running gear, or formal wear for a party. Numerous stories show the valor and courage of nurses stepping up to care for people in need anywhere, anytime.
An Exploding Airplane Engine
In April 2018, the engine of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 exploded in midair. The shrapnel from the engine shattered a window and pulled the passenger sitting next to the window halfway out of the plane. Two passengers, a firefighter and a ranch hand managed to pull her back into the plane. She was unconscious and when flight attendants asked for assistance performing CPR, retired nurse Peggy Phillips jumped into action. They performed CPR for 20 minutes while the pilot made an emergency landing. Sadly, the woman was pronounced dead once they reached the ground. “I was just doing my job,” said Peggy. “Andrew (the firefighter) was doing his job. I just did what I do. I did what needed to be done, what any registered nurse would do.” The job that never stops.
Extraordinary Powers of Survival
Some nurses have incredible powers of survival. Consider this: Violet Jessop was a ship nurse. She served on the three of the most famous sister ships ever to sail the Atlantic; the Titanic, Britannic and the Olympic.
- The Olympic collided with a war ship but was able to make it back to port; she was on board and survived.
- The Britannic hit an underwater mine and sank. It sank within 55 minutes, killing 30 out of the 1,066 people on board. Jessop was in one of the lifeboats when it started being sucked under the stern of the sinking ship. She and the other passengers in the boat were nearly killed by the ship’s propellers. She jumped out of the lifeboat and received a traumatic head injury which she survived.
- The Titanic hit an iceberg and sank; she was on board and survived.
She didn’t let her near-death experiences deter her from service on the seas. She continued to work on ships, including two around the world cruises before retiring. In the following years some accounts called her “Miss Sinkable”.
Courageous Nurses You May Not Know
Nurses go about their work whether it is in a hospital, a clinic, or the front lines of war. Here are two nurses who carried on in the truest tradition of nursing; never shying away from their duties, despite the ravages of war.
Mary Josephine Oberst served in the US Army and went to the Philippines in 1941. She was captured on the Bataan peninsula with the American troops and held captive in a Japanese internment camp for 33 months. She worked in hospitals built for 1,000 that held nearly 3,000 patients and worked to save the wounded in battles where nearly 21,000 American soldiers died. She endured food shortages with the prisoners. After she was freed, she returned to the US and resumed nursing. She is known as one of the “Angels of Bataan”.
Irena Sendler was a Polish nurse, social worker, humanitarian and member of the Polish Underground during World War II. She saved 2,500 from death at the hands of the Nazis. She smuggled children out of the Warsaw ghetto and provided them with false identity documents. She hid them with families, orphanages, convents, and other organizations. She was arrested by the Gestapo, but she managed to hide the list of the names and locations of the rescued Jewish children. She was tortured and imprisoned but never revealed anything about her work or the location of the saved children. “She was sentenced to death but narrowly escaped on the day of her scheduled execution, after the Polish resistance bribed German officials to obtain her release.”
There are countless more stories of nurses who go above and beyond. Big or small, you make an impact, and it’s a big deal. Thank you for your commitment and tireless dedication to healing. You remain one of the few professions truly dedicated to the care and wellness of the human race.