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Nurses providing health care and other services at the Olympics have spoken of their pride at supporting the events and the camaraderie they are experiencing.
All are working for free and using annual leave days to help out. Some get up at 4.30am and travel on night buses to the various games venues. Many are working ten-hour shifts.
Rod Thomson, a nurse and director of public health for Shropshire County primary care trust, has been co-ordinating nurses in the medical team at Wimbledon's tennis events.
'We have been dealing with everything from minor ailments, insect bites, slips, trips and falls, to more serious problems like appendicitis and meningitis,' he said. 'Sometimes people fall ill and it has nothing to do with the event itself - it just happens while they are here. But the team is a great bunch to work with.'
Lors Allford's day job is as an A&E sister at Royal United Hospital Bath, but she has committed 12 days to the Olympics with only one day off. She faces a 4.30am start on some days, and two hours on buses and trains from her Wimbledon base to the hockey stadium in Stratford. 'Working in A&E you are not getting thanked all the time - but here, you are.'
Ms Allford has been working as a 'first responder', providing nursing care for spectators. 'Mostly it has been people affected by the sun and kids grazing their knees. The competitors have their own doctors so we do not go on the field of play. I have to pinch myself sometimes. But I will be able to look back on these Olympics and say I was there.'
Hannah Marriage, a mental health nurse from Highbury Hospital in Nottingham, has been a crossing point marshal rather than a volunteer nurse. She was there when Bradley Wiggins won gold in the men's cycling time trial and fellow Team GB cyclist Lizzie Armitstead took silver in the women's road race.
'The atmosphere has been phenomenal,' said Ms Marriage. 'Keeping all the people behind the barriers was tricky at times. Some of them were unaware that if they were in front of the barrier it could cause a pile-up.'
Some trusts located near Olympics sites anticipated staff absences because of traffic congestion, but Charlie Sheldon, chief nurse at Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in east London, said: 'We have not had any major concerns about our nursing or midwifery staff getting to work, although some journeys are taking a little longer than usual.'
News | August 8 2012 | Vol 26 No 49
Visit the Nursing at the Olympics section of this website