In Case of Emergency: Sixteen Nurses Tell Their Stories

“You can’t explain to your kid what it’s like to see somebody die or to see somebody so distressed or in agony. To hold somebody’s hand as their heart stops beating is a very hard thing to explain to anybody else.

“What we have been through has been extremely trying. We have seen so much suffering. We have seen so much death. I know I’ve been very distracted, that’s the easiest way to describe it. Distracted by what we’ve seen throughout the day, and my worry about what the next day is going to bring. How much worse can this get? There has to be better solutions.

“We need a little bit of an arching umbrella to guide us through these terrible, terrible and challenging events. I just think that we have to be open to looking outside of what the structure and the framework has been traditionally in this country. Because, it’s not working. And Covid just amplified where it doesn’t work.” Cathyn Robinson, MSN, RN, St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, Paterson, New Jersey

Carolyn Jones’ In Case of Emergency about emergency department nurses begins on the front patio of a home in the early morning. Cathlyn Robinson is sitting on the top of the stair case that leads to the sidewalk. She is taking a moment before she leaves to go to the emergency department for the day. She is wiping away tears as she speaks about the impact of the virus on her and hers. But, this film did not start in the Covid disaster—rather, a year ago. Like the whole world, the filmmakers did not know what they were getting into.

In Case of Emergency features interviews with 16 nurses and 11 other medical personnel. Cathlyn seems to be the central character of the film. She is also a nurse trainer. All of the featured nurses, though, have much to say about their profession, and the nature of our current healthcare system. They speak about the stresses and challenges of their work on our behalf, but their commitment, dedication, and passion stand out and above from those stresses.

The pandemic appears in the film’s last 15 minutes, around May of 2020. The nurses’ demeanor had changed, but not their commitment. As of this typing, the end of December, 2020, there is a surge, upon a surge, upon a surge of the virus. A number of hospitals are on the breaking point. I am grieving for everyone affected including the many who have died. And it is the entire medical staffs that I hold in my heart. My ire at the federal government’s neglect from the start of the pandemic knows no bounds.

In pre-pandemic times I would be encouraging readers to see this lovingly made film. Now, I insist. These nurses deserve all the support, credit, and praise we can muster.

I also draw your attention to the film’s Interviews page where you can see photos of 33 nurses, and hear excerpts of their interviews.





To find the film go to

(Pictured: Cathlyn Robinson)

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