As the 9-year-old boy ran to get in line at Disneyland, he tripped and skinned his knee. But within minutes, a nursing staff member at the Anaheim, Calif.-based theme park cared for him, and soon he was bandaged and smiling. More than 50 nurses provide care at three of Disneys Anaheim locations one of the Disney hotels, as well as the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks attending to the medical needs of everyone from guests to shop workers to costumed characters. Nurses also roam the grounds of the two other Disney hotels, the Downtown Disney shopping area, and all parking and backstage areas.
The majority of cases we typically see are minor abrasions, lacerations, headaches, and blisters. During the summer months we see a lot of heat-related cases, says Cheryl Talamantes, RN, BSN, guest service manager for guest health at Disneyland. Although we provide basic first aid services, we do more than just hand out Band-Aids. We train extensively on various response situations to ensure the best possible outcome for our patients.
Should an incident require a higher level of care, Disney nurses work with paramedics from the Anaheim Fire Department, who are also stationed onsite, and who can transport patients to a local hospital emergency department.
Our Disney nurses are considered first responders, which means we report to the location of an ill or injured guest or cast member and immediately begin to assess the incident, Talamantes says. The nurse will then either treat and release in the area, or bring the patient back to the appropriate health location for rest or further treatment. If an illness or injury requires more than basic first aid, we begin an emergency response to transport the patient to a local hospital.
If a guest at Disney faints or collapses on a balmy Southern California day, a nurse arrives onsite long before anyone can dial 911.
Education and experience
The first aid locations at California Adventure and Disneyland resemble state-of-the-art urgent care clinics, complete with treatment rooms and a full array of medical equipment.
Nurses who work for Disney must be very comfortable in their assessment skills and have a broad base of nursing experience, says Lori Knight, RN, area manager for guest health services. They need to draw from their education and experience to determine the level of [needed] care, and to be able to handle emergency situations with confidence.
The happiest place on earth
Disney nurses find their jobs rewarding as they work behind the scenes to ensure guests enjoy themselves.
We are fortunate that in our jobs as Disney nurses we are able to provide care to one person at a time, and be able to focus on that guests needs completely before moving on to assist someone else, Knight says.
A small city
On high attendance days or during parades and fireworks, several nurses are staged in high-impact areas to ensure a prompt response. Our medical centers are open 24/7 just like hospitals, Talamantes says.
Nurses work staggered throughout the day and into the evening hours to ensure optimal response during peak times. All of their medical equipment, response bags, AEDs, and O2 tanks are checked and restocked throughout the day.
On any given day we can be considered a small city based on the number of people in the parks, Talamantes says.
Talamantes, who has worked at Disneyland for eight years, says its the most exciting nursing job shes ever had.
Where else can you work alongside Mickey Mouse or a favorite princess and ask them to visit an ill or injured child to make them feel better? she says.