Several nurses from the Tri-State got some accelerated training Friday with the Red Cross. They're volunteering for a 3-week mission to go to Alabama and lend a hand with some of the mental as well as physical recovery efforts.
The nurses got a heavy-dose of what kind of psychological warfare they're about to endure. Psychological and physical as well. It will be like nothing these brave women have ever experienced before, but they said they are ready for the challenge.
"You are walking into a very high-stress operation," said one Red Cross trainer. "You need to make sure that you can handle that."
The nurses were spared nothing as they get a mental crash-course in disaster training.
"So, are you ready? Yes!," enthusiastic volunteer nurse Keri Penn said.
They're ready to represent the Red Cross in the tornado-torn South.
"You have enough knowledge because of what you do everyday to do what the Red Cross needs to do," a trainer said.
"As nurses we have to be strong enough to deal with it and keep moving," Penn said.
"We live in this tornado alley and this is something that could happen to me or my family," said nurse Terri Davis of Oxford. "And I hope that someone would come and help me if that was the situation."
Davis is a nurse with 30-years experience. She watched a tornado devastate her brother's family in Indiana.
"He lost everything that he had and the Red Cross helped them," Davis said. "And so I want to give back."
"I think one person can make a big difference for anybody," said 20-year nurse Terri Marcum. This will definitely be a new experience for her, but she happily stepped-up.
"In your 20 years as a nurse, have you ever had to work a trauma situation of a widespread nature?," we asked. "never," she replied. "I think I can deal with it. I've worked a lot with the elderly and there's a lot of times we've had that, hold them, hug them, oh, I can go to sleep now since you've held me for a few minutes. it makes a big difference."
To be thrust into complete destruction, is a lot to wrap one's head around and still be many things to many people.
"That's the first thing they tell you in nursing school," said Penn. "You've got to do it all, you've got to wear many hats."
Not only as a medical professional, but even as part-time minister.
"Part-time social-worker, part-time friend, part-time just an ear to listen," Penn said.
Red Cross Paramedic Jerry Dickens walked them through what they can expect once they hit the ground.
"I was thinking about my hunting boots if I can get them in my bag," said Marcum with a big smile on her face. She knows she will be walking in just about everything.
Dickens said above all, they hope to instill confidence in the nurses, knowing the conditions they're going to be working under.
"We want them to think what they'll need in order to keep themselves healthy and safe, while they're down there," Dickens said. "It's very important to us."
"I am a new grad from UC," Keri Penn said with a big smile. She is fresh out of nursing school looking for work and thought this would be a great way to continue her education, on the frontlines.
"It's definitely not going to be textbook," she said. "Throw those right out the window," we joked. "exactly," she said. "You have to take your life experiences and go with it. 2 to 3 weeks, so it's going to be rough, but I know I'm doing this for the right purpose."
The nurses could be deployed and on-airplanes within the next 48 hours.