Most nurses who work in Australian remote locations have to take turns at being on call for emergency after hours call outs, from the clinic where they work. If a community is large, or staff few, a nurse can quickly become exhausted from being called out several times during the night. In Queensland a nurse is allowed a 10 hour break from any call out after midnight, it’s called fatigue leave and is a welcome relief, to sleep in and just stay at home.
Here’s an excerpt from my journal in late 2008:
” On call last night, did overtime with a vomiting child, a nose bleed that had stopped by the time they got to the clinic, a cut foot and a crying baby. I got into bed after midnight…now enjoying the luxury of fatigue leave, sitting in bed with coffee, books and my own company. I’ve opened the curtains to let light in. I can see straight out onto the clinic grounds, the wind is scattering gum leaves and dried palm fronds, sunlight and shadows making interesting patterns through the eucalyptus trees when I half close my eyes, all from the safety of my bed, my haven. This is day number six in a nine in a row stint and I’m already weary of people and their needs.”