The Lived Experience of Chief Nurses in Military Operations Other Than War -- M. Turner

Essential Themes
- Leading
-- Pride

The chief nurses were proud of the growth of individuals and proud of the growth of the team. Seeing this growth renewed their confidence in their ability to handle the mission.


I had to hand pick who was at each station, what teams were at each station, by name. It was wonderful. But that second day, we got through that, pretty tiring. But that's when the staff, the youngsters, everybody, just worked magnificently. They just were wonderful. I was so proud of them. They were wonderful people. They really... They really did their best during that... those days.


If you would keep those people busy and they knew they were doing something that was worthwhile and they could see the results of their activity, you know immediate feedback, immediate gratification, they would do anything. I mean, I would take that group of 125 or 130 people anywhere to do any tasking. I would. I trust them.


We just all had to do. The nurses came through with shining colors. They just really... I... I learned one valuable lesson. That when we are put to the test, we really can perform and perform they did. Everybody did an outstanding job. When they had to evacuate the patients to the bunker, they did it without thinking. I mean, they just... They just acted. And they acted very, very, very well.


I'm proud that I didn't have any major disciplinary problems with nursing. I think it was one of the hardest things to figure out what you do with boredom and how you keep people challenged, focus their energy in a positive way, because they could have disobeyed me, they could have done lots of things, they could have gotten into lots of trouble. I think we spent so much energy training... I met with them. And that's another thing. I conducted night meetings and day meetings and just let them talk about their frustrations.


It was after the riots, it was after the riots, that's right. We didn't have any help. So we actually had to open our 30 bed psychiatric facility with one major who has not had any psychiatric training... ...., any more than any of us who did not work psych. He volunteered to do that for us and then he got volunteers because that's the kind of guy he was and we had come together as a team and there were people who volunteered to do that for us and so that's the group that opened the psych unit. And it had to open quicker than later because of the riots and we filled up the rest of the hospital so the psych patients had to get into the tent earlier. We, of course...... Our psychiatric unit was two GP large tents. So you have these very involved patients in tents, on cots. That's what everybody slept on.


Well to the credit of a lot of the techs and the nurses, they actually did learn Spanish very quickly and they communicated well but... I mean, that was one of the areas that we had to have as soon as we could get some... Some interpreters, the volunteer interpreters, or the Army troops, or whatever, our one airman from home that spoke Spanish was well used. I mean, it's a wonder he ever got any rest. He was our... One of our two dietary ... Dietary techs too that went down with us so... You know, and ended up, the one.... The other dietary tech really got the brunt of the dietary work load because we needed him to do interpreting.


That's it. They would do anything for you. You know. They just did it. And they... They were these babies, that started out to be babies, that you just wanted to say "Grow up." And, you know, they were just wonderful people. And they did grow. I mean, one nurse, one lieutenant., I just wanted to strangle her when we were having to move to our second home. And I was trying to find rooms for everybody in this place and she wanted to know where her linens were. But she turned out to be a real good kid, grew up. Yeah. So I would say probably the proudest I am is how the kids grew and came together as a team.


So he started out as a meek, mild mannered guy who was scared of his own shadow and didn't have the confidence to really do very much of anything. And I watched... I just watched him grow over three to four months into... And... And I can remember just like it was yesterday, getting on the C141, and he was in charge of making sure that the reserve air crews that came in the theater had that plane configured the way it needed to be for the patients that we had and then he would go out and give them the report on the patients and he'd get the patients loaded up on the plane. And I remember one time a load master was just being a butt, wasn't configuring the plane like we wanted, and I watched him rip that guy a new asshole and I just said "Great."


"Well there goes that exercise. Goes to show we can really do it when it's real world 'cuz we did it."