Some of my children and I volunteered at the local children's hospital, during a city-wide emergency drill. The hospital staff said it is helpful to have real people to practice moving through the stages of emergency treatment, as opposed to just pretending patients are there.
Unlike other disaster drills I've read about in the news, we didn't get made up with blood or wounds.
The benefit for us? Our volunteering meant a behind-the-scenes tour of the hospital. For obvious reasons, this isn't something a hospital can typically offer. But in this scenario, we were able to experience the inner workings, without having to suffer any trauma to do it.
I also learned what an actor my son can be. When he was meant to be an unconscious victim, he never broke the role. I even threatened to sing, but he couldn't be persuaded to acknowledge me.
|I played a patient, too!|
There was a sobering moment, when I was accompanying son-as-victim to the PICU. There were real children, real parents, with real problems at the same time we were doing role-playing. I said prayers for the well-being of patients, family, and staff. The corporal work of mercy (volunteering) became a spiritual one. I think I had that backwards, as spiritual should precede corporal; my wake-up call.
The bright point? Hospitals have come a long way since I was hospitalized for a skull fracture in 1976. Back then, the décor was rather sterile, parents were not encouraged to spend the night with their frightened child, and there wasn't much room for privacy in the ward-like room I was in. Nowadays, the rooms (the ones I saw) were private. The décor was pleasing. The rooms were equipped with a couch that could be shifted, futon-like, into a bed. Funny that all these years later, I recall what was difficult about my hospital stay. I'm not saying it would have been a spa-like retreat for me or anyone, but the five-year-old I was would have like a private, nicely decorated room that would allow lots of visiting time with my parents!