Registered nurse Rochelle Bradley told CNN that she’s been drilled throughout her career on the ABCs — airway, breathing and circulation.
“His airway was compromised,” Bradley said. “At a moment like that, you immediately help someone.”
Health care workers around the country have held rallies and marches in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in response to Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Bradley was part of a group of health care professionals who protested police brutality Thursday at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, and knelt to honor Floyd.
“Kneeling here today for nine minutes and knowing that that’s how long George Floyd was on the ground with his airway compromised really bothered me as a nurse,” she said
She held a sign that said, “Take it from a registered nurse, when someone can’t breathe help them!”
Dr. Tobenna Ubu, a resident physician at the hospital, urged the crowd to stand up against the injustices committed towards people of color.
“George Floyd could have been me. Being a doctor, being a hospital worker, that might not have protected me from the same fate that happened to George Floyd,” he said. “I’m here as black man, I’m here as a frontline provider. I’m here with pain. I’m here with hurt, I’m here with anger. But when I look out at this crowd, I know I’m not here alone.”
In New York City, health care workers at several hospitals held rallies on Thursday to declare that racism and police brutality are public health emergencies. They also marched with Black Lives Matters protesters earlier in the week.
“We are acknowledging that racism is a public health issue, and together health care workers will come outside of these hospitals to join with our patients. So is a message of solidarity,” said Dr. Kamini Doobay, a resident physician in emergency medicine who helped organize Thursday’s rallies.
She said they want to draw attention to the racial and economic disparities in the health care system and put pressure on hospitals, insurance companies and medical professionals to make real changes.
Doobay said they urged protesters to take precautions because of Covid-19, but said it was important to stand up.
“Over the course of our history, racism has shown that it is truly the root cause of mortality and morbidity in the United States,” she said. “It is truly the public health emergency that has taken more lives than any epidemic.”
Doobey is the founder of The NYC Coalition to Dismantle Racism in the Health System and pointed out that coronavirus had hit black and Latino communities particularly hard — including the Queens neighborhood where she grew up.
More rallies by health care workers are scheduled around the country and many of the protesters have used #whitecoats4blacklives to spread the word about the events. A representative of the group White Coats For Black Lives said it was not involved.
Bradley told CNN she came in on her day off to participate in the Miami protest and said it was moving to see so many of her co-workers get involved.
“I’m one of the only black females that are actually in my clinic, so to have all of my co-workers out here that are of totally different races backing me was very moving for me,” she said. “It just makes me understand that we all stand together in times of need.”