Background: Disasters disrupt the fabric of communities. This includes disruption to the healthcare system that supports a disaster-affected community. Nurses are important members of disaster response teams. However, there is limited literature that describes nurses’ roles or experience in responding to disasters. Aim: This paper employs a phenomenological approach to uncover moments of being an Australian civilian hospital nurse in the out-of-hospital environment following a disaster. Method: This study uncovers moments of what it is like being an Australian civilian hospital nurse deployed to the out-of-hospital environment following a disaster. Individual interviews were undertaken at two points in time with each participant. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed to textual narratives, which was then analysed. Several activities were undertaken to uncover moments and provide exemplars of moments, from the narrative. Findings: Eight hospital nurses participated in this study. Five moments were uncovered: ‘on the way to a disaster’, ‘prior to starting work’, ‘working a shift in a disaster’, ‘end of a shift’, and ‘returning home’. Each moment has its uniqueness and singularity exemplifying an experience of nurses in the out-of-hospital disaster environment. Discussion: When compared to a hospital context, assisting during and/or following a disaster in the out-of-hospital environment is challenging. For example, nurses may need to do more with less resources, provide more frequent psychosocial support for more extenuating circumstances, and experience an unsettling return home at the end of the deployment. Conclusions: This paper has provided new insights into what it may be like being an Australian civilian hospital nurse in the out-of-hospital disaster environment as part of a disaster medical assistance teams. Strategies to support nurses who assist during and/or following a disaster are important, so nurses can in turn provide care to people in disaster-affected communities.
- Disasters, Disaster medicine, Mass casualty incidents, Nursing, Phenomenology, Qualitative research
- Qualitative research
- Disaster medicine
- Mass casualty incidents