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What Would You Do?

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"One Second After" by William R. Forstchen is a book that has been heralded as a realistic account of what would happen if an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) hit the United States. One blurb states "it has already been cited on the floor of Congress as a book that all Americans must read". It's also a very poorly written book that could have benefitted from some professional editing, but that's neither here nor there for the purposes of this discussion. Evidently there was little enough input from survivalists, because our hero overlooks the whole idea of food preservation and storage in favor of the whole town gorging on meat "before it goes bad", but there's another thread there as well.

In the book, an EMP from a nuke detonated high above the US knocks out all of our electronic devices, our electric grid, our means of generating electricity -- essentially reducing the United States to a third world country in seconds. What happens next? What do people do?

As much as the "could of"s and "would of"s the writer used drove me bonkers, the book did make me stop and think. I'd be at work in a blizzard -- I have been, many times. If a hurricane struck, I'd be at work. I have been. During thunderstorms and tornado warnings, I'm right there with my colleagues. I've worked through an earthquake and a volcano erupting. But a nuclear war? An EMP that devastates our country and reduces it to a third world country within seconds? I'm not sure how long I'd stay at work or what would happen to our patients. Probably by the time the food and water ran out at the hospital, I'd be looking to get back home. My home is thirty miles from the hospital -- it would be a very long and dangerous walk. So maybe I should leave sooner?

What would you do? The electricity is off, and it's not coming back on for years. Your car won't work -- if you're driving, it just dies where it is, and then it sits. Airplanes fall out of the sky, ships lose propulsion and your smartphone is just a plastic brick. You cannot heat or cool your home, your daughter's insulin pump just stops and your father's CPAP is useless. No coffee maker, no microwave oven, no hot water for showers, no computer. Life as we know it is over. For good.

Those who live close enough to the hospital to walk to work could do so, but thirty miles? What about my dog and my husband? If I left work, there would be no going back. Maybe my husband and I could sail our boat to the closest dock to the hospital and live there . . . our boat is certainly better set up for living with 1800s technology than is our home. We can heat it with wood, cook on propane and maybe we don't really need refrigeration anyway. But would I be spending my days working at the hospital for no pay, probably not even food and water (because they'd be saving it for the patients) when I could be at home tending my garden and canning my produce for the winter?

At what point do you decide that your loyalty to yourself and your family exceeds your loyalty to the patients under your care? In my case, my critically ill patients who are dependent upon assist devices and vasoactive drips would probably die off relatively quickly. But what about nurses working in nursing homes where the residents aren't really dependent upon technology but are dependent upon another human being's care? Would you leave them to their own devices and bug out? It seems that it would be a devastatingly difficult decision to make.

I'm not completely sure I know what I would do. What about you? What would you do?

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I'd have to say I would be dealing with nursing issues at home. My husband is disabled, on oxygen, and terminal. So my course is plain. Also, I teach CNA's and am employed by a school and not a nursing home or hospital. And having worked for 3 of the four hospitals in this area I can rather selfishly say 'they are on their own' - after working for one for 30 years I was shown the extent of their loyalty, along with a lot of other long term, faithful employees and made redundant - we made too much money! Ageism is alive and well in America!

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Not a tough decision at all. I am no longer a nurse....

I am now a survivalist. It's me against what's left of the world. I would grab the beans, bullets and "bandaids".

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I would be hitching my wagon to Daryl Dixon. :)

In the real world...

Simply put, if the world tanked, I would want to be with my people.

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I would most definitely return to my family. My toddler daughter needs me. As far as the patients go, I would provide care to those that would seek it from me(neighbors, or wanderers). If we were suddenly to become a 3rd world country, we would be forced to behave like one too.

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I read that one, as well as "Alas, Babylon", and "Lucifer's Hammer".

My options, are limited as my survival depends on a medication, and extremes of temperature adversely affect my condition. So I would likely fall into the category, of likely to be in one of early human die offs. While I do stockpile meds as able and keep plenty of basic food supplies, my survival in the scenarios listed in those books would be quite limited.

As an aside, my family comes from the area that is considered to the township written about in "Alas, Babylon". Several of the neighbors had bomb or fallout shelters in their backyards or in their property.

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As far as I am from work, if I'm work, I'm apparently staying there. If I'm at home, I'm staying there. It's an hour drive. Walking? Ain't gonna happen.

If I'm at work, going to hope my husband is home to take care of the critters. Wouldn't want them starving to death. But his work is even further away. I'll let him know he's in charge of making it home though, as he can walk faster than me.

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after working for one for 30 years I was shown the extent of their loyalty, along with a lot of other long term, faithful employees and made redundant - we made too much money! Ageism is alive and well in America!

Surely you see a difference between your patients and your employers? no?

Anyway, I think those of us who are single with no dependents at home would probably be among the last to leave the patients (those of us who had any kind of compassion and work ethic anyway). I would probably do as much as I feel like I was able to do and then finally leave because there's no way you could save everyone. Staying around a little while would also give time for the initial madness outside to die down some.

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I live and work in the country, so therefore I would clock out for good, stock up on stuff in the clean utility and snag a horse on the way out of town to my family. ;)

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You know, I hadn't thought about this from the Revolution perspective - only from the zombie apocalypse perspective. And, as common sense dictates, we would be in the first wave of deaths if the zombie apocalypse came to be. The EDs would be overflowing with critically ill people, the floors and ICUs would fill up, the hospitals would declare an emergency and call all possible staff in, I would show up instantly because I am a ho for overtime, patients would start dying faster than staff could transport them to the morgue, and then boom! All of those dead patients still on the unit would be up and infecting people. Game over, nurses lose, no further plans needed.

I will have to mull over what I'd do if something else went down.

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It would take some time for people to realize what happened and that it is most likely a permanent thing. As soon as reality hit, I would steal a bike and get my ass home. There's no way I would want to be out in the open in the murder capital of the US for long. In such an extreme scenario--the ultimate scenario, really--it's survival of the fittest. However, there is a hospital about four blocks from my home. Depending on the stability of my family situation, I might check in there. I would also try to procure a gun from one of the cops that live near me.

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As far as I am from work, if I'm work, I'm apparently staying there. If I'm at home, I'm staying there. It's an hour drive. Walking? Ain't gonna happen.

If I'm at work, going to hope my husband is home to take care of the critters. Wouldn't want them starving to death. But his work is even further away. I'll let him know he's in charge of making it home though, as he can walk faster than me.

Are you going to stay at work for YEARS if that's how long it takes for the electricity to come back on?

I'm a long ways from home, too, if I'm at work and I'd have to walk through some pretty sketchy neighborhoods to get home. I'm not sure if I could walk home -- it would take more than one day. It's a frightening thought.

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