I sit here watching the horrific images of the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. According to reports, at least 51 are dead and as many as 145 have been injured. It makes me think of something else: nurses. As nurses, we have such unlimited possibilities to help during disaster, as far as what we can do, how we can do it, where we can do it, and so on. As I watch these poor people talk about how their home was leveled or they can’t find their pets, I can’t help but think of the other people: the people who were injured; the people who — at this very minute — are in the local hospitals being cared for by doctors and nurses.

Think about it. Without nurses and the top-notch health care facilities we are fortunate enough to have in the United States, the death toll of these horrible natural disasters would always be higher than they are. Sometimes death can’t be prevented. Sometimes people die in these catastrophic disasters and nothing can be done to stop it. Some deaths, however, can be prevented. These deaths are prevented by the doctors, nurses, and emergency personnel who are on the scene or in the hospitals moments after disaster strikes.

Have you ever really thought about how fortunate we are as nurses? As nurses, we are able to be on the front lines, out there saving lives and caring for these people right after they lose everything. We are able to prevent them from losing one thing, though: their lives.

As nurses, we don’t just save lives, nurses wear many hats. While we aren’t saving lives, we are comforting those who are hurting, those who lost loved ones, entertaining children whose parents are injured, making phone calls to family members for patients who aren’t able to do so themselves. As nurses, we are life-savers, caregivers, secretaries, liaisons, friends, and a shoulder to cry on. It’s a profession like no other, and one we should consider ourselves proud to be associated with.

Natural disasters happen all the time, whether it’s a tornado, an earthquake, or a hurricane. You can count on it. The tornado in Moore, Okla., is over now, but rest assured another event is on the way. I challenge you, as nurses and  health care professionals, to get out there and help. If you’re on duty, obviously you’re doing your part. But if you’re not on duty and you live anywhere near the location where a natural disaster occurs, get up. Get out. Do something! Do what you can to assist the rescue personnel.

As nurses, we aren’t helpless. We don’t have to watch in horror as the television shows video after video of crying people or busy rescue workers. We can actually get up and do something about it. So, next time you’re complaining about your boss, your workload, or your terrible hours, consider this. You are in one of the most honored professions in the world. People look at us as angels on earth. We are in the unique position to make the lives of others better. Let’s act on it. Get out of your unit, out of your clinic, out from behind your desk.

Get out in the community and make a difference. Someone once told me “the world is a better place because nurses are in it.” I challenge all nurses to be a part of making that statement true!

To help those affected by tornados in Oklahoma visit the Red Cross.