There are some things you need to handle the rapid pace at the busiest Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department in Singapore. Good rest before your shift begins. Patience when dealing with people — even the ones who literally throw crap at you. The ability to bring out your A-game in emergencies, every time.
The night shift begins at 10pm, and goes on until 8am. Eventually, your body adjusts to it. There are fewer staff members on duty during the graveyard shift, and emergencies that come in are no less severe. This is your opportunity and duty to save lives.
Sister Sulimah Sarmin
Sr Sulimah Sarmin and Dr Kelvin Kee are respectively the Nurse Manager and Resident Physician of the A&E department, who both find fulfilment providing medical care in the graveyard shift.
Not all patients understand the waiting time at the A&E department, and some end up abusing the staff. It’s because a triage system assigns patients to care based on the urgency of their illness. Priority 1 patients are in need of urgent care — every second counts in saving their lives.
Patients with sniffles or diarrhoea will still be treated, but can expect a waiting time. Someone else’s life hangs on a thread, and this department always prioritises emergencies.
Dr Kelvin Kee
Despite your best, some patient doesn’t make it. Breaking the news to the family is difficult, and their emotions affect you. This is why it’s important to do everything to the best of your abilities — your actions impact lives.
Ultimately, those working in the A&E want to see the patients get better. Saving lives and having meaningful interactions with patients on the road to recovery gets you through the night.
Patients Please, Emergencies Only! is the third episode of the While You Sleep social documentary series, featuring Singaporeans who work the graveyard shift. The five-episode series will also profile the extraordinary jobs of an animal rescue worker, embalmer, ambulance driver, and SOS hotline volunteer.
While You Sleep is part of the Viddsee Voices project to develop original films that explore with local content creators issues commonly overlooked in our society.