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

Fundamental Structure of the Experience
- Preparing
-- Urgency, packing and gathering information

For some there was immediate shock and denial especially for those who had never deployed. For all of them there was a sense of urgency, a need to move quickly as they gathered information, packed personal belongings and made arrangements for their families, pets and other personal affairs. Short notice deployments left little time for adjustment.


So I did. I left everything, I checked the hospital, and everything was still status quo, still on alert, and just waiting to hear. So I got up there to deliver the dogs and called back and they said "you have to go in and mobility process and you must be there in an hour." I said, "What?" So I give them the dogs and I rush back down the road and I packed everything to go now for, I ended up being there 3 months, in about 5 minutes. I just stuffed everything in the bag. I called somebody who I knew wasn't going and said "I'm leaving my house, everything is like it is, and could you check on it?" Christmas decorations were up and everything else. So I went in and we spent all night processing and then the next morning at 10:00 we left. I have never in my life done anything that fast. All these years in the Air Force, I knew this was possible.


So it was very, very quick. To pack your bag. In fact, the morning When they called me, I had all my mobility stuff all together and, um ... And it hit me, "This is for real. I guess I need to throw in some sweats and everything else." So that's really how I really wasn't prepared mentally. Throwing some shorts, tennis shoes, sweats, and, um ... Just those every day, day to day clothes, because I didn't want to live in my BDU's [battle dress uniform] the whole time.


So one of our big tasks was actually to get everybody in and we actually planned briefings for them with as much information as we could give them at the time, as much as we knew, to try to prepare them for Panama. We did the medical intelligence briefing for them as a group from public health, those kinds of things, so we actually did spend a lot of time trying to prepare them as much as we could. And then we needed to prepare our family members, you know the people who were going to stay behind, and try to get the support from the family members started so they'd feel as comfortable as possible with their people leaving.


My boss said "Do you want to go?" You know, and then, of course, she addressed the ... "What are going to do with your daughter? Is she going to stay with her dad?"


That was one of the issues we spent a lot of time... trying to get people prepared to be able to deploy and take care of their families.


And about three weeks before we actually deployed, the executive team, the group that had been chosen to be the executive team at the deployed location, took a trip to the deployed location. And we spent three or four days. We had briefings at the headquarters in Germany which was like the headquarters for the U.N. forces.


And one of the things we always do before we deploy is really go over the country, what goes on there, and at least understand.