Kerala's nursing community has always been known for its dedication, service and commitment to the process of tending to the sick and ailing. Over the years they have fine tuned the art of nursing and brought a high level code of ethics and professionalism to this delicate art that needs compassion, patience, knowledge and immense energy. Their work stands out in every way and they are shining examples of what excellence in a profession is all about.
In a time and age when ethics and professionalism are seen as archaic words, two twenty year old nurses, Remya and Vineetha, showed exemplary commitment to their job by sacrificing their all to rescue their patients caught in the fire at AMRI Hospital, Kolkata. To have saved eight out of nine and to go back into the hell of smoke and fire, knowing fully well that they might not return, is stuff made up of the highest levels of professionalism, stuff that we all can stand up and salute. And i believe that what Remya and Vineetha displayed is not a momentary spark of courage, they showed their preparation for this eventuality in their thought, their attitude to service and to others. A product of their culture, their education and upbringing.
The soldiers do it, the nurses do it. If nothing else, we all need to do our jobs with the same commitment and pride, the same spirit and the same high standards of professionalism. It is not about the money we get paid, it is about what we bring to the job that is important. But still, if after being trained and educated, we do not have a basic understanding of what we are expected to do as professionals, we can hang our heads in shame. Leaders, politicians, doctors, engineers, lawyers, clerks, teachers...we all need to learn from this and take a leaf out of the book f these two girls. Bring their attitude to the world and our world will be a much better,less cynical place. For me, who struggles to come up with examples to cite the level of professionalism that we can go to, the two heroes from Kerala will always remain as shining examples I shall take in all my future workshops.
In a recent discussion, where I expressed concern over falling standards of the spirit of humanity, best exemplified in people ignoring those hurt in accidents or lying by the road, a well-read colleague who runs a school said that their students are taught not to touch the injured and are instead taught to call 108, the ambulance service. So we will have a whole generation of 108 callers, not one who will help or offer water even. In direct opposition of this I met a worker of a factory who attended a workshop recently and he said that when he sees anyone hurt, he begs and borrows money to take them to hospital. He goes to court cases, suffers losses of pay but he says he will always help an injured person.
In terms of humanitarian help our society is clearly divided. At the top the rich who will not get their hands dirty and will call 108 or even try and get out of the situation quietly. A waste of time, unnecessary complications! If they are owners of the hospitals etc they will convert all safety processes into areas of revenue generation such as a pharmacy etc and try to keep patient safety last and their brand flying first. This class is driven by greed and self-protection and nothing else. We can expect no help from them. If anyone has an example here, do share. It would help.
Next comes the middle class who stays at the site only long enough to rescue their own. They are a confused lot and have no time for the others. As long as we are safe we are okay.
And then at the bottom comes the ones who to me are the only ones who still have humanity left in them, the poor, who are the first to risk everything in such times. They think not of time lost, of money lost, of their one pair of clothes wasted by blood, of court cases - they only think of the suffering of another human and their duty to them. They think not of the caste, community, the rich or the poor, they just dive in as the locals of the area adjoining AMRI did to help patients. I read the story of a young man Shankar who rescued several people at the AMRI and who had to be joined in an ICU himself for breathing in noxious gases. I think he survived. Unlike Remya and Vineetha.
It is time for some introspection at a time when increasingly the greedy are finding themselves behind bars for flouting rules. We all need to introspect and think of the values we carry to our daily lives as well, to what we are showing our children as examples. If you expect someone to do that extra bit for you and your family members, you better start doing something yourself. And for reminding us through your heroic act, Remya and Vineetha, you will, along with all those unsung carriers of the torch of humanity and ethics and professionalism, will always remain deeply etched in our hearts and memories.