The unsung heroes: Respiratory Therapists

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

October is #Respiratory Therapists week/month!

Working day after day, year after year,in a busy high acuity ICU, we all have become that “second family.”

The public doesn’t hear much about Respiratory Therapists, especially during this Covid nightmare, but they have been the unsung heroes.
So who are the Respiratory Therapists and what do they do?

They are specialized healthcare professionals trained in critical care and cardio-pulmonary medicine. They work therapeutically with people suffering from acute critical conditions and cardiac and pulmonary diseases.
College educated with an Associates degree or a Bachelor’s degree, they put in hundreds of hours in their training with both theory and clinical practice.

We’re a tight fit unit and we all learn our roles and like clockwork, we intertwine in the intricate rhythm of actually saving lives.

Especially during covid, to the forefront stage; ER and ICU nurses and physicians were the focus of a dynamic life saving force.

But If you built a pyramid, the backbone would consist of Respiratory therapists.
Without them, our critical care units would tumble down and fall.
They are the right hand person to the Intensivists intubating a patient stat as the patient loses oxygenation.
They are there to obtain stat ABG’s (arterial blood gas) and assist the nurse and physician in interpreting whether a patient is going into respiratory or metabolic acidosis or alkalosis.
What’s the CO2? What is the bicarbonate level? How do they adjust a ventilator? Should they increase the FiO2 or increase the peep?

The concepts, protocols and intricacies of Respiratory therapists are enormous.
Without the lungs, without the heart, without the Respiratory therapists, we’re just a shell.

Without the respiratory therapists, this well oiled machine, this tight knit family of healthcare professionals would self destruct.

They are precise, professional and educated health care professionals in this pyramid of lifesaving events.

October is respiratory therapists week/month.
You are a vital force in our Heath care system.

You are our heroes and we sing your praises.
Thank you for your teamwork.
For your excellence.
For giving patients another chance at life.
Another chance to breathe again.
Resilience. Strength. Hope. 🫁 🩺

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