Emotional hell - Will the next patient be my child?
The sirens blare, the porters get busy and the commotion starts.
These are the usual indicators that a next person in need of medical treatment is headed to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department at Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), and the medical team immediately gets ready to try to save another life.
But for registered nurse Melanie Guelph, a deep fear kicks in, as she wonders if her child will be the next patient.
"I hear the doctors saying that they got the training to deal with these things, but I am saying that my training is right at this Grand Old Lady here at North Street. There is nothing in medical school that could prepare me for this," said Guelph during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the downtown Kingston-based hospital last Thursday.
"When I leave my home in the days, the first thing you hear outside is the porters; they are very excited when anything comes in. You hear that and your heart either lifts or it drops, and then you see them rushing in.
"For me, personally, the first thing I look to see is if it is a male or female. I have adult kids and I have a son. If it looks like a boy, I am going to look if it is my boy. And if it is not my boy, I am ready."
According to Guelph, she has to put an armour over her heart and shut down her emotions each day she reports for work to face the difficulties.
Her strength is particularly tested when it is a young victim who reminds her of her children, but she has had to toughen up and get on with the job of preparing them for theatre.
... I wanted to cry
"I felt like I wanted to cry when I remembered last week and the rush of people coming in, and then this girl came in with a nine-month-old baby in her hands, and I had the baby in the cubicle, and when I was finished with the baby and rushed to the next room to see what was happening in there, I saw the baby's 17-year-old mother lying down dead," Melanie Guelph shared as she fought back tears.
"It was like we had a morgue. We had to put them on the ground and cover them with sheets - the child's mother and two other adults - and we had three more who were pronounced dead earlier.
"Those are the things that really touch me -- when I saw the child who was injured and the mother ... ," said Guelph.