None of us can fail to have been affected by the events of the past month in Manchester and London. The terrorist events and the awful tragedy at Grenfell Tower have brought out the very worst and yet also the very, very best of humanity.
They have sickened us to the core and yet brought tears to our eyes at the incredible bravery, kindness and compassion of so many in the most horrendous circumstances. It is a tribute to the society we enjoy in the UK & Ireland and many parts of the world that so much goodness can help after such destruction of human lives and the families of those injured in such events.
We must of course pay tribute to our emergency services each of whom have been called upon to respond to some utterly devastating situations; whether it was the terrorist attacks at Westminister, London Bridge, Manchester and now Finsbury Park, or the appalling loss of life at Grenfell. They have responded with professionalism, dedication, heroic actions and a bravery (especially the fire crews running towards such danger at Grenfell) that has left us at times quite speechless.
And amongst all that are the ambulance crews, doctors, nurses, managers and so many others in the NHS who have cared for the injured, resuscitated and saved the lives of so many and supported those who have been so badly traumatised by events mentally. Clinicians in emergency medicine have of course been in the midst of such major incidents and those of us not directly involved have looked on with admiration and pride at the way our colleagues have carried out their duties with such calmness, dedication and expertise. The urban trauma systems in Manchester and London are amongst the very best in the country if not the world and it is amazing to see such professionalism and passion by colleagues in Emergency Departments and the rest of the hospital helping in such circumstances.
I have no doubt that our staff will continue to do their very best in Emergency Departments all around the country, rehearsing major incident plans, linking with colleagues in their wider systems, helping train others to optimise their skillsets and of course continuing to do their ‘day jobs’ – managing the increasing demand and complexity of work that continues unabated through the doors of the ED 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
We as a College are of course ‘fighting the good fight’ to make policymakers understand about the wisest possible use of scarce resources in the NHS. We are also ensuring that we influence positively issues of system design, staffing and support services. The good news is we are making progress but change cannot come fast enough.
This month though is about just spending a bit of time to reflect on the awful events of the past month, to think about how far our specialty has come in such a short time of 50 years that we are at the very heart of being able to help deal with such things and to be energised by the acts of selflessness and kindness that people continue to show in response on such occasions.
Dr Tajek Hassan
President, The Royal College of Emergency Medicine