I was recently reminded of a series of events that occurred some years ago. These events present a lesson in how we view and act upon what is “really important”.

A school nurse was confronted with an emergency involving one of her students. The student (of divorced parents) had become seriously ill and was exhibiting respiratory distress secondary to a severe allergic reaction. The nurse administered first aid to stabilize the child and called for an ambulance. The nurse then called the child’s mother and informed her of the unfolding events. The ambulance arrived and the child was turned over to the care of the EMT’s who rushed to the hospital. The child responded well to the treatment and the episode would have ended there with a “they lived happily ever after” conclusion. Except…
The following day the child’s father arrived at school and asked to see the nurse. When he entered her office he unleashed a tirade upon her for her failure to call him. When he paused to take a breath the nurse interrupted to ask, “Sir, isn’t it enough that I responded efficiently and professionally to render aid to your child? Isn’t it enough that I stabilized her and called for emergency assistance? Isn’t it enough that you can still enjoy the company of your child and that a tragedy was averted?”
The Father continued his criticism of her failure to call him, never once expressing any gratitude for the life that she had protected. He concluded with the assertion that he intended to report her to the school authorities. She asked him to please do so, and the meeting ended.

We choose our priorities. The nurse chose to intervene and (possibly) save a life. The ambulance EMT’s chose to respond to the 911 call. The hospital emergency room staff chose to continue to minister to the needs of the child. Divorced or separated parents may choose not to notify each other of their child’s emergency. Finally, the father chose to criticize the nurse’s failure to call both parents, and he also chose to withhold gratitude.

What were the motivations behind each participant’s priorities in this bit of real life drama. What are the lessons to be learned? Just asking…

Peace! Pete (Originally posted July 15, 2014)

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1 thought on “We Choose Our Priorities

  1. I know in a school setting they always lists a “First Contact,” if it’s the mother who is listed, that is who is contacted, trusting she will alert all others. The nurse acted properly, she was too busy attending to the child to double guess the family dynamics. The father seems to need to exert his authority and control. He could have handled it differently and could have started off by expressing gratitude to the nurse and requesting that he also be contacted should another emergency arise. I think the nurse acted correctly if the mother is listed as first contact.

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