My College Had An Active Shooter Situation, And It Was Terrifying

My College Had An Active Shooter Situation, And It Was Terrifying

When I heard the shots I thought this situation could turn into a massive tragedy

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November 29, 11:00ish PM

I was getting ready to go to bed. I'd been up doing homework, which was no surprise considering finals week is looming way too close for comfort. I'd thought about going to the library, but I knew if I walked all the way there I wasn't going to have the motivation to go back to my dorm. One of my roommates had gotten out of cheer practice pretty recently, and she was in the dining hall with some friends. I was on my phone, just checking Snapchat and other stuff before I turned it off for the night. I was getting ready to be done for the night when I got a notification from our floor's GroupMe, asking what was happening over by the library. Someone had heard there was something involving gunshots going down either by there or the rec center.

11:15 PM

The floor group chat explodes, and everyone's Snapchat stories are full of people telling others to take shelter and calling each other to make sure they were okay. I texted all of my friends and made sure they were safe, and then called my mom to tell her what was going on. She was understandably freaked out, but she felt better after I told her I was safe and told me to let her know if anything else happened.

11:33 PM

We finally get a text from campus police, saying there was a police emergency involving a gun near the rec center. By this point pretty much everyone has known for a bit now what's going on, and we're all a bit frustrated that it took so long to get an alert out when we'd known for at least a good 15-20 minutes beforehand. We go on Facebook and let loved ones know that we're safe, we're out of harm's way, no we don't know what's going on other than we've been told to shelter in place.

November 30, 12:33 AM

We receive another text alert that the shelter in place has been lifted and there is no longer an active threat on campus. I text my mom again and let her know that campus PD has said we were safe and that I'm going to bed.

We saw some of the drama unfold from our window, and could see the police cruiser lights flashing as we frantically called our friends to make sure they were okay, and then our families to let them know in return we were safe. Things went pretty much back to normal during the day after, but it was still scary to think about what could have happened if this was more than a fight gone too violent. My roommate and I had immediately thought after we heard there were shots that this could be the next shooting that would end up as a tragedy, and lives lost. Thankfully, it wasn't, but the fact that this was the first thought that came to mind when this happened is terrifying, that this has just become the norm to expect when we hear something about shots being fired.

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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With More Lost To Mass Shootings Every Week, When Will It Finally End?

The tragedy never stops.

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There are three more people dead this week, lost to the pandemic of mass shootings and domestic terrorism.

Jeremy Richman, 49 years old. Sydney Aiello, 19. Calvin Desir, 16.

What mass shooting? I can hear you asking. When? Why I haven't I heard about it?

You probably did hear about it.

We lost Jeremy Richman to the Sandy Hook Massacre in 2012. Both Sydney Aiello and Calvin Desir, to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre on Valentine's Day of 2018. The first anniversary for the latter has just passed, while the 5th anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting was December 14th.

All three survived these shootings. All three took their own lives.

This is a painful reminder that death doesn't stop when the shooting has stopped.

Jeremy Richman lost his 6-year-old daughter, Avielle, in the Sandy Hook massacre of 2014. Afterward, he started his own foundation and told Anderson Cooper that he was simply doing his best to get out of bed every morning. He was a neuroscientist, who strove to understand why such violent behavior occurs in the first place. Of his daughter's death, he said," It's such a shock to the system, that you just feel displaced like the world is spinning and you are not and you are just going to get thrown off of it. We came to the idea that we were going to create a foundation in her honor." He strove for justice and reason in a world that took the most precious thing from him.

It has been six and a half years, but the trauma never leaves you. Even though Jeremy was apparently functioning in his day to day life, the recent autopsy confirmed his death a suicide.

Sydney Aiello recently graduated from high school. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as survivors guilt. On her twitter, she expressed empathy for people like Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain, who seemed cheerful before their suicides. She was going to go into the medical field, liked yoga, cheerleading, and brightening people's days, according to her family's Gofundme account. Her mother said that she was struggling in college, because classrooms now scared her, only reminding her of the incident. She lost her close friend, Meadow Pollack in the shooting. Meadow's brother, Hunter, tweeted his agony about losing Sydney as well. Her bright smile and bubbly personality will certainly be missed.

Within a week of Sydney's death, Calvin Desir, 16, killed himself. He too was described as a wonderful person, who wouldn't hurt a fly, described by his family as soft-spoken, selfless, and someone who would never hurt a fly. He enjoyed riding his bike, cooking, trying new recipes, and spending time with his sisters.

A year, six and a half years later, 10 years. The pain will never go away.

Experts say that in mass killings like these, "particularly in schools, where we expect to be safe, the incidence of PTSD afterward can be very high." Primarily because the location is one where students, faculty and parents alike expect safety to be found.

If nothing can or will be done to prevent tragedies like these, before they happen, put energy into giving the survivors proper mental health care. Especially as we face more and more people who will be dealing with the aftermath of such events. Remember the risk factors, anniversaries, illnesses, life transitions, birthdays, things that may make them feel guilty for living while others don't.

Memorize the signs of survivors guilt, PTSD and of suicide. If you can, donate money to a research or prevention fund, like those that can be found here.

Most importantly, remember to be kind and warm, like the three we lost were. Make the world a kinder place than the one they left.

Sydney, Jeremy, and Calvin will be missed dearly, by both those who knew them and those who didn't. Rest in peace.

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