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Fright night in the ER


Image: Brand X Pictures | Thinkstock

For a change of pace (and with Halloween happening around the corner), I thought I would write about one of my favorite nursing/ER stories from Halloween a few years ago.

At the time, I was recently off of orientation at a new Level I ER. It was Halloween night, AND the night of the Insane Clown Posse concert. The crowds at these concerts were mostly teenage boys, drinking doing drugs….and best of all, wearing clown makeup.

It was about 1:00am on Halloween night. I was told by the charge nurse that I had a new patient in room 5F, an intoxicated 16-year-old male who had attended the concert (5F was the “quiet room” with a door on it for out-of-control patients to calm down in).  I was busy so I just peeked in to check on him. He was asleep in bed, so I went on my way and decided to come back and see him in a few minutes.

After about 30 minutes I finally had time to go see him, assess him and get some vital signs.  When I walked in the room he wasn’t in bed.  The bed was about a foot from the wall, so I thought maybe he’d rolled out of bed. I leaned over to see if he was on the floor.  Just then…the door slammed behind me.

Squatting down in the corner behind the door was a 16-year-old guy in clown makeup.  All I could say with my back turned to him was, “What’s up, dude?”  Just then, he jumped at me.  It was like a steel cage match.  We were kicking, punching, spitting cussing…there were tables getting knocked over and blood flying from both of us.

Now remember, he is 16 years old, in shape, and loaded with booze and who knows what else. I was 30-something, over-weight, and tired from night shift. He was beating the snot out of me.

I don’t know how, but I finally got him face down on the ground with his arm behind him, one knee on his neck and the other pressing down on his kidney.  I couldn’t reach the door without letting go of him, so I started yelling for help. I was tired from the fight, so I couldn’t muster up much of a yell, unfortunately while the ED filled up with screaming, hollering drunks.

Finally one of my female colleagues opened the door and in her sweet little voice said, “Do you need help?” Calmly I said yes, please, get some help for me.  She proceeded to close the door and walk away.

Help finally came and the clown was taken care of, as was I.  But I vowed to never again work the night of the Insane Clown Posse concerts.

Rob Cameron
Rob Cameron is currently a staff nurse in a level II trauma center. He has primarily been an ED nurse for most of his career, but he has also been a nurse manager for Surgical Trauma and Telemetry unit. He has worked in Med/Surg, Critical Care, Hospice, Rehab, an extremely busy cardiology clinic and pretty much anywhere he's been needed. Prior to his career in nursing, Rob worked in healthcare finance and management. Rob feels this experience has given him a perspective on nursing that many never see. He loves nursing because of all the options he has within the field. He is currently a grad student working on an MSN in nursing leadership, and teaches clinicals at a local university. Away from work, Rob spends all of his time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys cycling and Crossfit. He is a die hard NASCAR fan. Sundays you can find Rob watching the race with his daughter.

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