October 10, 2017
Healthcare

Nursing - More Dangerous Than You Think

Picture this. You are a nurse on your 3rd house call for the day. It’s a sunny Tuesday afternoon in the indigenous community of Wadeye, WA (a relatively small town, southwest of Darwin) when you pull into the driveway of a complete stranger’s place, in a strange neighbourhood and completely alone, to potentially save the life of someone you have never met. You have no knowledge of this person’s past, their background or even what they look like. You just know that they are in danger and you are the only person for miles around that can save them. 

Now picture opening the door and entering this person’s home, with all the best intentions in the world… only to be beaten down to the ground by the very person you are trying to save. You barely have time to realise that you are in danger, let alone call the police. Your instincts kick into overdrive and you raise your arms up to protect yourself from the brutal attack. You are then repeatedly punched and kicked in the face. All you can do is curl up into a ball and play punching bag for a ruthless, uncaring monster. And if it wasn’t for the intervention of a heroic resident of the household who came running to your aid… you probably wouldn’t be alive right now. 

Sounds like a farfetched tale, doesn’t it? To be viciously attacked for seemingly no reason, with no provocation and all you were trying to do was save someone from an immediate danger… only to be put in danger yourself. Well, for the 54-year-old Remote nurse on call that day… This story was all too real. 

But some aren’t so lucky. Sometimes you’re alone, with no heroic stranger to heed your call for help. Gayle Woodford, a woman described by those close to her as “… a kind, generous, caring person who touched so many lives”  and an outback nurse who met her horrific end as she was abducted, raped and murdered in the small town of Fregon, SA (population 285). 

Ms Woodford’s tragic demise sparked such an uproar from nurses across the nation, calling for something to be done to make conditions for these brave remote nurses safer and bring to light the safety failures and pressures from their employers to discourage the reporting of violence. 

It’s not only nurses making house calls who are in danger, as registered nurse Sophie Burke found out when she parked out the front of Lismore Base Hospital, NSW. She pulled into a parking spot at 9:15 PM, 15 minutes early for her nightshift when she was nearly attacked. Thankfully she was able to enter her vehicle and drive away. Shaking off her would be attacker that had jumped on top of her car and started stamping on her car’s bonnet.    

These are only some of the countless stories of violence, abuse and constant threats to safety Australia’s nurses face on a day to day basis. But such deplorable attacks against nursing staff aren’t just confined to our shores. A study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) estimated that healthcare workers face extremely high rates of workplace violence, 5 to 12 times higher than for workers overall.  This is compounded by the fact that the amount of workplace violence incidents are increasing at an alarming rate. Reportedly as much as 110% between the years 2005 to 2014 in private industry hospitals.  

In the United Kingdom, a survey conducted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) showed that 1 in 10 nurses have been attacked on home visits. With 55% of the nation’s nurses working outside normal working hours and are feeling less safe as a result. And who could blame them? At least 6 out of 10 nurses polled, had been verbally abused while working within the community.

There is a terrifying trend forming when peering into the day to day activities of a healthcare worker. These brave souls who have dedicated their lives to caring for and healing the World’s sick and dying are in an ever-present, ever increasing risk of danger. With every shift, with every house call, with every routine checkup, their safety is in jeopardy. Some healthcare workers face these horrors alone with no backup. 

How safe would you feel in their shoes? Stuck in a situation with no one there to call for help when you’re attacked. When you, yourself don’t even have time to react, let alone make the call the police. Now picture that scenario but you had a team monitoring every crucial second of that incident. Who can make that call to 000 on your behave and have police sent to your location in moments. Every sight, every sound and even your exact location, all of it monitored in seconds. The ability to trigger an emergency at the slide of your finger, a single tap on your screen or by simply pulling out your headphones? Or how about being able to trigger monitoring when you're not feeling safe and be able to stop it at any time? No police will be called and there won’t be any consequences if you cancel the emergency. (Hey, it’s better to be safe than sorry).  

Imagine all of this, packed into a simple app on your phone. Safety at your fingertips and an entire team working around the clock, 24/7 ready to send help when you’re in trouble, no matter where you are or when an emergency occurs. Now imagine if Gayle Woodford had a dedicated team, there to make that call to 000 on that tragic night. …Things may have been different. Gayle might still be here to make the town of Fregon a much better place. 

We here at BodyGuard Technologies were sick of hearing stories like Gayle’s and so many others who met such horrific fates with no one there to do something, to act and potentially save a life. We, ourselves, were sick of feeling unsafe walking home after a late night at the office or getting off the train at the station and having to walk through a dimly lit, sketchy underpass. I’m sure you’ve felt it too! That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you don’t feel safe. 

We wanted to feel safe again. Not only ourselves but our loved ones, our friends and health workers who are in the line of fire each and every day. And night shift workers like Sarah who are pulling into a vacant parking lot in the dead of night who have to make that daunting walk through dark streets to work. In all honesty, we want the world to feel safe again. 

That’s why we developed the Duress App. To make everyone feel safe. To stop stories like Gayle’s from ever appearing on the evening news or on our news feeds. So if you’re like us and want to feel safe again, or if you know a loved one who’s a health worker or if you’re a health worker yourself. Consider trying Duress for yourself or a loved one and help us make the world feel safer. 

Click here to find out more. 

Sources: 

ABC News. (2017). Remote area nurse assaulted on call-out to home: NT police. [online] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-26/remote-nurse-in-nt-assaulted-on-callout-to-home-police-say/7361204 [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].

Walker, J. (2017). Attacks spur calls for action. [online] Theaustralian.com.au. Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/attacks-spur-calls-for-action-as-murdered-nurse-gayle-woodford-mourned/news-story/7c9386007fb99c7643c702e730cb0f69 [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].

Elley, S. (2017). Night nurse attacked after arriving for her hospital shift. [online] Northern Star. Available at: https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/night-nurse-attacked-after-arriving-for-her-hospit/3042948/ [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].

Nationalnursesunited.org. (2017). National Nurses United Petitions Federal OSHA for Workplace Violence Prevention Standard | National Nurses United. [online] Available at: http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/entry/national-nurses-united-petitions-federal-osha/ [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].

Mail Online. (2017). One-in-ten nurses has been attacked on home visits as violence surges against health workers. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2082560/One-nurses-attacked-home-visits-violence-surges-health-workers.html [Accessed 10 Oct. 2017].

Gemma Dean
Hi, it's Gemma. I'm a Designer and Blog Writer for BodyGuard Technologies! ...Oh and I'm also a coffee lover!

What families across Australia are saying.

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