In addition to his role as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist in the Emergency Department at Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Jared Street, BSN, RN, CEN, C-NPT, NHDP-BC, EMT-B, is also a nurse with the Disaster Medical Assistance and Critical Care Aeromedical Evacuation Team, a part of the National Disaster Medical System. He shares his recent experiences during the COVID pandemic.
The word disaster is defined as “a sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, or destruction.” To me, a disaster encompasses a whole number of events: hurricanes, tornados, chemical spills, pandemics, and terrorist attacks. Each one is unique in terms of the number of injured, sick, mortally wounded, and displaced. Yet, when you take a deeper look, they all share these commonalities: they happen suddenly—often with no warning—and can impact anyone in their path. Those that are the most vulnerable and lack basic resources at baseline are left with nothing and nowhere to turn.
I became a nurse for the same reason that so many do, I wanted to help those who need it the most. Nurses show up every day because we hope that through unassuming acts of kindness and our ability to care for those who are critically ill and injured, we might just make the world a better place. Early on in my career, I found my true calling—helping those people who need a place to turn at one of the darkest times of their lives.
Besides being a Nursing Professional Development Specialist at Cleveland Clinic Akron General, I am a staff nurse on a Disaster Medical Assistance and Critical Care Aeromedical Evacuation Team. It is a federally deployable asset that is part of the National Disaster Medical System, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services. I am part of a dedicated group of professionals, trained to perform life-saving tasks, assemble mobile hospitals, and evacuate patients from disaster stricken areas. Typically, our teams are deployed to help those people whose lives are impacted by hurricanes, flooding, and fires. We live and work in tent-type hospitals set up in parking lots or in convention centers and care for those people who have basically lost everything. This year our mission sets have changed, teams are donning scrubs and PPE, not BDUs and boots. We show up to work in intensive care units and emergency departments, not parking lots and convention centers. We are privileged to give respite to those nurses and doctors who are working on the frontlines in hospitals being ravaged by SARS-COV-2 or COVID-19.
On my most recent deployment, I had the chance to see the effect of this deadly virus first hand. I stepped away from the bedside almost a year ago to pursue a career in nursing education, but I spent months this year training staff to care for COVID-19 patients. I was deployed on July 4th of this year to augment a COVID ICU in Tucson, Arizona. At that time, the virus that the Northeastern United States knew too well had devastated the southwest portion of Arizona. The indigenous people and minorities were feeling the sting the most, but everyone was being affected. I was assigned to a hospital not very different from my own, just slightly smaller. They had a 22-bed ICU that was housing only COVID patients. All of them were intubated, ventilated, and a few were on CRRT and ECMO. I worked 12 days straight of my 14-day deployment, only leaving to go back to my room to sleep and eat. Before those two weeks, I never truly felt the impact and hardship that COVID-19 has been having on the Emergency Department staff that I support. I now have insight into how breathtakingly painful it can be to hold the hand of a dying patient because their family can only tell them how much they are loved and will be missed through the lens and screen of a tablet. YOU ARE ALL HEROES, be proud of everything you have accomplished!