Dr. Rana Asmar, Third Year Internal Medicine Resident
I will never forget the patient’s name.
My first impulse was to head straight to the ER, but as patients kept coming, we, residents, had to spread out, especially as the ER was well over capacity. By 10 a.m. the next morning, I had alternated between the chemotherapy unit that was opened to receive more patients, radiology and ICU.
We were running on pure adrenaline and did not stop to realize how bad the situation was. As I sutured a 24-year-old, he started having seizures and lost consciousness so I had to transfer him to radiology for a brain scan. In the elevator, he kept on asking me if I was his sister. I said ‘yes,’ because I needed him to stay stable, and kept on talking to him as if I really was. This was very traumatic for me, and I will never forget his name.
We were certainly emotionally unprepared – no one could ever have been. But we were able to apply what we had been taught, though we never thought this day would come. I think our simulation-based training was extremely helpful, judging by our agility in organizing and allocating tasks among ourselves as residents.
Considering that we only had one death in the ICU, and that we did not lose anyone on the operating table, it goes to show that we did a good job in triaging and diagnosing patients to send them off to the right units.
Throughout my life, I have always been the type of person who prefers to do the job singlehandedly. That night proved to me that I could delegate, as there was no way I would have been able to cope on my own. I also learned how to keep emotions on the side. I only reckoned with what I heard and saw the next day, when the memories started flooding back.