4th Quarter, 2006
Nursing Scholarship Winner
“Born in San Diego, California I was the only girl and the oldest of three. Having two younger brothers I was always patching wounds and comforting boo-boo’s. Inherently with two brothers I grew up as somewhat of a tom-boy, enjoying the outdoors and playing rough. I remember meeting the Firemen when they came to our school as children and wondering why there were never “Girl Firemen.” As I grew older, like all kids, I was always fascinated with the lights and sirens and the excitement that went along with Emergency Services. As a teenager working in a sporting good store I became familiar with a couple local Paramedics who shopped at my store often. I began inquiring about the world of EMS (Emergency Medical Services). They encouraged me to do a “Ride-a-long” with them and begin taking EMT classes; three years later I became a Paramedic.
On a personal level I was recently chosen to represent AMR (American Medical Response) of San Diego to compete in a National Paramedic Competition, put on every year by JEMS Magazine (Journal of Emergency Medical Services) in Baltimore, Maryland. I was teamed up with two other Paramedics as we competed against Paramedics and Firefighters across the Nation. We received the Gold Metal and have now been awarded an all expense paid trip to Australia in September of this year to compete in the world competition. A very large reward for simply doing something I love, taking care of others.”
A Portion of Danni’s Winning Essay:
The drive to pursue a career in nursing has manifested from countless experiences in my life. With two younger brothers, growing up I was the only girl in my family, and my caring for the injured started at a young age. Frequently I was the “chosen one” to patch wounds, splint sprains and dig for splinters. I recall spending many recess periods in elementary school finding excuses to talk with the school nurse, with the true reason being that I could help care for the other kids who would come to her office seeking care.
At the age of 12, I was able to put my desire to help and care for people into an actual role when I graduated from my first First-Aid and CPR class taken as a pre-requisite to becoming a Junior Lifeguard. In that class I felt I was on top of the world. My life, as I knew it, had meaning and direction. I waited anxiously for other kids to injure themselves so I could come to their rescue. It was a summer experience that eventually paved the way to a career in Emergency Medicine.
For thirteen years I have been caring for the public in the pre-hospital setting. I took my first job as a Basic EMT in 1992 and quickly progressed to the aramedic level. I have loved every minute of my career, and it has allowed me to maintain the desire to care for the ill and injured. Throughout my career I have constantly looked for ways to further myself professionally and push my limits in the emergency medicine field.
I spent nine years as part of High-Angle Technical Rescue Team providing Advanced Life Support in a back country rural setting and also as a Confined Space Rescue specialist in the urban setting. In this experience I found myself providing care for the injured often for days at a time before reaching a hospital.
Most recently in October 2005 I volunteered to go to Louisiana to provide assistance to the exhausted emergency workers struck by both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. We lived in tents and our ambulance, sometimes for days, posting on street corners and responding into areas where the local EMS system was wiped out by the storm. Many of the us found ourselves assuming hospital roles due to the exhaustion experienced by the local nurses. We assumed the roles of Triage Nurses in the Emergency Room and Intensive Care Nurses on the floor. It was an eye opening experience to be on the receiving end of a patient in need. To have the opportunity to assist in the efforts was a feeling that was incredibly rewarding and a priceless lesson on what is truly important in life.
When I first began working as a paramedic I was told that I would be put into situations that no textbook or training manual could prepare me for. The instructors stated “You will learn techniques on mannequins, in a lit, controlled setting, where everything is black and white, but will be expected to perform them in an uncontrolled environment where everything is grey. You will have to make split second decision while dealing with numerous patients and uncontrollable family members.”
They were right! I have been on the joyful and exciting end of delivering a baby while bumping down the road with my rear-end pressed up against the back window for the car behind to enjoy, while I squeezed between the patients legs to perform the delivery. I have held an 8 yr old boy in my arms in the back seat of his family’s mangled car, attempting to maintain his airway and provide respirations for him as firefighters cut away the vehicle in order to extricate the 3 other unconscious family members. I have intubated and performed CPR on a fellow police officer and friend who was shot and killed in the line of duty. I have cared for a feisty 90 year old woman who bit my partner, pinched my trainee, kicked the fireman and punched me square in the nose all while having what was later diagnosed as a stroke.
My 13 year career has been colorful, exciting, traumatic and very humorous. With that said, I still love going to work every day knowing I will be caring for someone in need of a happy face and knowing my skills and compassion will endlessly be put to the test.
In January 2003 my life experienced a dramatic shift. What I thought would be a simple inflamed gallbladder in my mother turned out to be news that turned my life upside down. At the time my mother began complaining of epigastric pains with discomfort after meals. She fit the textbook profile of the typical gallbladder patient. An obstruction was indeed diagnosed as the problem, however, it was not a stone; it was a tumor.
The strong paramedic who could deal with anything thrown at her was suddenly helpless and unable to help the most important and precious person in her world. The diagnosis was deemed terminal as the tumors had metastasized into her liver, spleen, pancreas, uterus and eventually her lungs. I spent everyday assuming the role of patient advocate, caregiver, family crutch and interpreter. Quite often the doctors would speak in terms my family could not understand, leaving me to explain what grave changes were taking place.
Sitting on the other side, I witnessed the caring and compassionate healthcare providers and noted how easily one patient can so quickly fall into the cracks with the current shortage of nurses. I have seen hundreds of people pass on, some in a peaceful manner after many wonderful years of life and some tragic and years before their time. This was the first time I was with someone from beginning to end. This has been my greatest life altering event which caused me to re-evaluate myself, my goals and my purpose.
Subsequent to the loss of my best friend I decided it was time for change. I placed my career on hold, rented my home out, packed my dog and belongings and moved back to San Diego. I knew I needed a change of scenery, more sun then Idaho had to offer, a new beginning and the start of a new career. Loving my life as a paramedic I wanted to take my knowledge and passion for the job to the next level and work towards becoming a Registered Nurse.
After exploring several options and programs I found National University’s educational philosophy not only compatible with my lifestyle, but a place where I would surround myself with other like minded individuals in pursuit of the same goals. I am excited about the unique structure of the programs and know because of it I will be able to obtain one of my life long dreams to not only become a nurse but to also be the first in my family to receive a college degree.
I plan to combine my experience as a paramedic with the education granted in a Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree and continue working in the emergency medicine setting. Currently, I am the Education Coordinator for American Medical Response, a promotion I took recently to better facilitate a school schedule and to help educate new EMT’s and Paramedics.
On the weekends I work as a Flight Paramedic with Mercy Air and plan to continue on that path as a Flight Nurse. Once experienced in that role I foresee myself returning to school to work towards becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Many people search a lifetime for their purpose. I found my path as a child and have been providing care and compassion to people in need ever since.
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