Nursing student Joshua McGill is being credited with saving a stranger’s life in the Orlando massacre after escaping the club himself. As he was running, he stopped and attended to the wounded man using a shirt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. The media is calling him a hero but we would expect nothing else because he’s a nurse.
We don’t like to think of ourselves as superheroes, but there is something heroic about caring enough to save the lives that can be saved and to provide dignity in the final moments of those that cannot, particularly in the context of flying bullets. It is the power to keep from going numb when it feels as though hate and pain are winning, to remember that empathy, like love, is a super power. We are tested in moments like the Orlando nightclub massacre, as nurses, as brothers, sisters, relatives, co-workers, and friends of LGBQT community members who must again wrestle with the notion that they could be singled out to die simply for who they are, for their love.
Our hearts go out to the victims, the survivors, and their friends and families in Florida. I am comforted in knowing that there were nurses who responded and are continuing to respond to the pain and suffering in Orlando. It’s what nurses do best, often at the worst times.
We should all take a moment to look around us. Put away the politics, sexual identity, religion, and cultural differences that tear us apart, as nurses do every day. In the end, it’s about caring for each other. In this spirit, rather than letting this latest in a series of dark moments drive the wedge deeper, let it be a rainbow that connects us.
By Patricia Davidson, PhD, MED, RN, FAAN
Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing