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Nurses have to deal with violence at work

When you think of tough jobs that regularly have to deal with violence, law enforcement or a night club bouncer come to mind. While it may surprise you, nursing actually has one of the highest rates of workplace violence in the country.

A recent survey by the American Nurses Association shows that one out of four nurses were attacked at work within a year’s time (Survey found HERE). It’s catching attention nationally and its one reason why several local hospitals provide deescalation training, and security personnel for their employees.

“Sometimes patients come in and they are violent, related to a multitude of reasons. People have organic brain problems, inorganic brain problems,” said Nicole Storer, the Emergency Services director at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC).

Storer said the EIRMC Emergency Room see’s all kinds of patients in all sorts of state of mind, from calm to unruly and violent. “Nobody plans to come to the emergency room,” said Storer. “We realize many of these patients are in a crisis state.”

In most cases, nurses work to calm people down by listening and talking gently. “That works 95 percent of the time,” said Storer. “So we really try to train our nurses on how to deal with these patients.”

EIRMC requires all emergency room personnel to go through a training course within the first six months of employment. “We give them a 12-hour course essentially on how to deescalate a situation,” said Storer. “So if they’re faced in that situation, they have some resources to pull from on how to make an unstable situation a calm one.”

In the case where nurses feel a patient isn’t cooperating or isn’t calming down, they have backup. “If it ever gets to a point that we feel we can’t manage a situation, we always have the Idaho Falls Police Department,” said Storer.

IFPD and EIRMC have had an official working relationship since 2008. Off-duty police officers can work part-time as security officers at EIRMC to make a bit of extra money on the side. The program has been very successful and beneficial for both sides.

“Just the presence of having law enforcement in the hospital is typically enough to diffuse any kind of a situation. It’s been a big help to our facility,” said Storer.

“Presence is a very big deal,” said Officer Christopher Reed, an IFPD officer who works part-time at EIRMC. “No matter the circumstance, we are called to deescalate. We don’t intervene with any kind of medical direction, because we are not medical professionals. But we try to deescalate to try to guide them (the patient) to a condition in which they can receive medical care.”

Reed said they are called often, but rarely do they have to use force to intervene. More often than not, the police uniform is enough to get people to cooperate. “We’re usually don’t have to use any kind of force other than potentially just trying to talk to them and talk them down,” said Reed.

Reed also said many officers like helping the nurses as they’re very appreciative of the security service provided. “Our nurses are very nice here,” said Reed. “So being nice back is probably the best thing people can do.”

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