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Calling Out for EXCEPTIONAL Snow Conditions

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Now we all know that nursing is a 24/7/365 job and you need to plan to commute to/from work in all conditions, but...what do you do when you get SIX FEET of snow?¬†ūüė≥¬†Local news reports were saying that parts of California just received that much from this latest storm sweeping the country.¬†I have to admit to not being that familiar with the region of California where this just happened, so I don't know how many people were affected, but can you imagine trying to cope with that much snow?!?! What could anyone do? I can imagine that would pretty much entirely snarl operations where I live!

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It's similar to the plans hospitals have for hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.   Team A (the event team), is expected to watch the weather reports, etc., pack a bag, and come into the hospital before the roads become impassable -- expecting to stay until Team B (the recovery team) can make it into the hospital to relieve them.   Team B stays home during the worst of it, but prepares to come in and provide relief for a day or two, giving Team A (and the hospital) a chance to recover.  Which days you were originally scheduled to work becomes irrelevant.   You are either designated as Team A or Team B -- and you prepare to stay a while overnight, etc.

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With snow, you don't usually have an officially delegated "Team A" and "Team B".  At least not in any of the 7 places I've worked in the snow belt.  But other than that, llg has it perfectly right.  You watch the weather reports and come into the hospital while you still can.  You pack your bag after Halloween, so all you have to do is grab it and go.  You make sure you have clothing, toiletries, snacks and prescription meds for 3-4 days.  (Hospital policies on this will specify.). 

If you're AT work when the snow emergency starts, you expect to stay at work.  (You've had your bag packed since Halloween, and if the weather even hints at being nasty, you throw it in your car.)  The hospital will usually provide a place for you to sleep -- once it was a suite at the Sheraton, but usually it's stretchers in the PACU, Pre-op holding area or an empty bed on some other unit since ours rarely has empty beds.  Once it was an air mattress in my manager's office, and a couple of times I cross country skied to work and was able to ski back home and in the next day.  

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A hospital I used to work at would send emergency services to come and get you if you couldn't get there and they needed you bad enough or force you to stay at work after your shift if you were working and sleep there until roads were passable again. One time we got several feet of snow and my car got snowed under but my dad was able to use his four wheel drive to pick me up. They let me go because I promised I could make it back the next morning and I did. Everyone else had to sleep there that night because they were afraid of letting anyone else leave. 

I have a friend in law enforcement. They do not get snow days. They provide vehicles that will work in the snow and take turns picking up and dropping people off after shift. They were happy to help transport nurses if need be.

Places where they rarely get snow it would be a little crazier and take longer to get the roads clear. It's always a good idea to have a spare set of clothes, medicine, etc in your car for ANY reason. You just never know anymore!

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I've been the recipient of the ride to work in the 4WD.  Unfortunately, they only give you rides TO work.  Getting home again is up to you.

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You plan ahead, usually by going in much earlier prior to your scheduled shift.

I’m scheduled to work all weekend, and the NE is going to get hammered with wet heavy snow in my area, followed by freezing rain and an artic blast that will create a sheet of ice.

So Saturday as I’m driving it will be up to an inch or two of snow an hour ... at 11:30 at night. On Sunday the roads will be a skating rink.

You plan ahead. Your car is gassed up. Warm clothes, a blanket, flares, etc. And pray to the DOT and the weather gods that all will be well. I’ll be going in much earlier to give me time.

If I have to stay over, that’s life.

You don’t call in. We have a coworker that does this every.single.storm. She’s now on probation. It makes us short staffed and makes someone from the previous shift stay ... which isn’t cool nor fair.

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You stay over and you plan for it.  My first year of nursing, I only had one set of scrubs, no hair conditioner, no sleeping medications, and no clean underwear and was stuck at work.  I'm now ready when a sizeable snow forecast is given.  I get my son someplace he can be for a few days (my husband is also an essential employee in a different field) and we plan accordingly.  We both drive about 40 minutes to work, so we understand that in a bad snowstorm, we're staying the night at our place of employment.

I would never call out because I couldn't get there, that's not fair to my other co-workers.  And for those that say it's not fair to my son, as an only child, he is thrilled for the sleepovers with friends and their siblings.  The longest I've had to stay has been 36 hours. 

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It's fortunately been awhile since I've been stuck at work for a snowstorm, but as others said if you work in area where inclement weather can be an issue you plan ahead.  Be prepared to get to work if at all possible and then be prepared to stay once you get there.

I can see where sometimes getting to work just isn't possible though. If roads are totally blocked due to snow or flooding and you just can't get there well then, you can't.  If you are snowed in to your house to the point of feet of snow blocking your ability to get to a main road that might be passable then getting to work might truly be impossible. If it's several feet not even a 4 wheel drive is getting through and not too many towns/cities police departments provide transport anymore. Ours used to provide transport to nurses via police snowmobiles but for whatever reason they stopped doing that years ago.  There's a few members of management with big 4 wheel drive that will try to get you there if they can get to you, but if you take them up on that you are on your own getting home.

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Been there, done that, have my Subaru for our usual blizzards for up to 2-3 feet at a time. My post was more tongue-in-cheek/humor for the HUGE (I don't know, but I'm pretty impressed a SIX feet, and I grew up in New England) six feet of snow that parts of California just got. Granted, when I asked around, it was in the mountains---great for the ski folks, didn't really affect the daily goings on for most (though goodness knows California has been getting the crap beat out of it lately!). But heaven forbid six feet fell in a short amount of time around here. We do well, again, with your "average" blizzard, but I think we'd be left scratching our heads with all six falling at once.

Edited by River&MountainRN

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I get your point. Six feet of snow, even in a snow belt would be darn hard to cope with.  We've had some monster snowstorms including a whopper that brought our Snowbelt town to it's knees for a few days in 1991. The "Halloween Blizzard" dropped about 37 inches of snow and it crippled an area known for dealing with snow. That's nowhere near six feet so I couldn't imagine dealing with that!

I have a friend that moved to  Kentucky from here many years ago and she still gets a kick out of how the whole town shuts down with just a few inches of snow.  But as I like to remind her unlike around here they don't have city plows, and sanders. Very few people would  know what  a snow tire is even if it ran over their foot.  Driving on ice is a totally foreign experience to them. People don't have snowblowers or even snow shovels in the garage and not too many own clothes appropriate for snowstorm weather. Those are the folks I feel bad for when snow hits them, they truly have no coping skills for it. 

Edited by kbrn2002

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6 hours ago, kbrn2002 said:

I have a friend that moved to  Kentucky from here many years ago and she still gets a kick out of how the whole town shuts down with just a few inches of snow.  But as I like to remind her unlike around here they don't have city plows, and sanders. Very few people would  know what  a snow tire is even if it ran over their foot.  Driving on ice is a totally foreign experience to them. People don't have snowblowers or even snow shovels in the garage and not too many own clothes appropriate for snowstorm weather. Those are the folks I feel bad for when snow hits them, they truly have no coping skills for it. 

You must be talking about the southern border of Kentucky because on the northern border, that is all untrue. We have snowplows/salt trucks and everyone has snow shovels and winter clothing. That being said, we do get significantly less snow than where I grew up (NW Indiana) where the lake-effect snow can dump 3-4 feet of snow over night.

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54 minutes ago, NICU Guy said:

You must be talking about the southern border of Kentucky because on the northern border, that is all untrue. We have snowplows/salt trucks and everyone has snow shovels and winter clothing. That being said, we do get significantly less snow than where I grew up (NW Indiana) where the lake-effect snow can dump 3-4 feet of snow over night.

Yep. She's right on the KY/TN  border. 

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