Save a Life: When Seconds Count

Save a Life: When Seconds Count

Life stays busy for Heidi Gilbert, RN and Emergency Department Educator at Stillwater Medical Center, Stillwater, OK. Among the many titles that Heidi is known for, she also plays a big part in the Stop the Bleed, Save a Life program.

by Vickie Jenkins, Staff Writer

Meet Heidi Gilbert, RN at Stillwater Medical Center, Stillwater, Oklahoma. Beginning her career in Idabel, Oklahoma, she graduated from RN school in 2003. “I began working in the Emergency Department at SMC and that is where I remain today. I am currently the Emergency Department Educator and SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) Program Coordinator at Stillwater Medical Center,” she said.
Stillwater Medical Center staffs ten SANE nurses who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are registered nurses who have completed specialized education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of the patient who has experienced sexual assault or abuse. A sexual assault nurse examiner can evaluate an adult or post pubescent adolescent (has had her first period) victim whose assault has occurred within the previous 120 hours (5 days).
Heidi is an active member of the Emergency Nurses Association at the state and national level, serving on the ENA National Trauma Committee for the past 4 years, and as OK ENA Secretary for the last year.
“I love the challenge and dynamic environment of working the ED and can’t image myself doing anything else. I’ve briefly worked ICU as a flight nurse, but stretcher-side emergency using has always been my first love,” Heidi stated.
Heidi’s husband is also in emergency medicine. He has been a paramedic for over 20 years, a flight medic for more than 10 years and is currently the regional clinical educator for Air Methods. They have three grown children, at Stillwater Medical Center as well.
Asking Heidi if she had any advice for someone going into the medical field, she replied, “I would tell the new grad nurses to build their ‘toolbox’ as thoroughly as possible. The more tools you have, the better prepared you will be and the better care you can take of your patients. Tools can be tips and tricks from experienced nurses, certifications like ACLS or cross-training to other departments to gain experience outside of their comfort zone. I also think it’s crucial to be respectful of everyone on your team, and expect the same in return. We all have different education levels and scopes of practice, built more letters behind someone’s name doesn’t necessarily make he or she smarter than you, more educated, yes but not necessarily smarter. Everyone has something to contribute and everyone is important, especially in an environment like an emergency department when decisions need to be made fast and lives very much on the line, we reply on each other immensely,” Heidi said.
Heidi is fortunate to work with an amazing team at Stillwater Medical Center ER. SMC has been chosen as a Best Place to Work by Modern Healthcare for 7 years in a row. “I have worked many placed, from tiny EDs to Level One Trauma and there is something special about SMC. The culture the teamwork, you don’t get this everywhere for sure,” Heidi commented. “Like I said before, I can’t image doing anything else,” she added.
Heidi also is a big part of the Stop the Bleed, Save a Life program. Motivated by the 2012 tragedy of Sandy Hook and multiple tragedies that have occurred in the ensuing years, what has become known as the Hartford Consensus was convened together to bring together leaders from law enforcement, the federal government, and the medical community to improve survivability from manmade or natural mass casualty events. The resulting injuries from these events generally present with severe bleeding, which if left unattended, can result in death.
“We held our first class on June 29 and have taught 33 classes and more than 650 students Bleeding Control Basics. We have a core group of nurses with a real passion to teach this life saving education to our community members. Bleeding Control Basics teaches bystanders how to recognize and manage life threatening bleeding by using direct pressure, wound packing and tourniquet application. We have had students ages 7 to nearly 80 years old in our classes,” Heidi stated.
The participants of the Hartford Consensus concluded that by providing first responders, law enforcements and civilian bystanders the skills and basic tools to stop uncontrolled bleeding in an emergency situation lives would be saved. The first responder program has received very good response and is widely used across the country. The next step is to focus on need of civilian bystanders.

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