BSN Students Donate Class Fund in Memory of Fallen Oakland Police Officers
Caitlin Baron, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduate student, says she will never forget March 21, 2009, the day when four Oakland police officers, Sgts. Mark Dunakin, 40, Ervin Romans, 43, Daniel Sakai, 35, and Officer John Hege, 41, were fatally shot allegedly by a wanted parolee in East Oakland.
Baron was doing her preceptorship at Alameda County Medical Center when the first call came in about an Oakland officer being brought in due to gun shot wounds. "When they called the code I went down to the emergency room and you can feel everyone felt the pain and the tragedy of the situation," recalls Baron. "The ER was full of police officers, nurses, and doctors. Everyone was crying."
So it was no surprise to Baron to find out on the day of her Pinning Ceremony, April 12, (in the presence of faculty, staff, family and friends) that the BSN class of 2009 decided to donate the class fund to the surviving family members of the officers who died that day and forgo having a party celebrating their graduation success.
"When the announcement was made that more than $1,100 would go in honor of the officers, everyone was clapping, crying, and smiling," says Baron. "I think everyone was in support of this decision because these men died protecting the community where we all go to school, shop, and where several of us live. We wanted to give back to show our appreciation for their courage and protection."
Nursing graduate Michael Davidson, who proposed the idea to his BSN class, agrees. As a former firefighter/EMT in South Central Los Angeles, he understands and values the role police officers perform on a daily basis.
"Like nursing, law enforcement is a helping profession, and police officers are partnered with us to ensure public safety and health," says Davidson. "Every day police officers contribute to the health of our communities by reporting cases of abuse, responding to mental health emergencies, combating violent crimes, providing scene safety for EMT's and paramedics in the field, and ensuring the security of many hospital emergency departments."
Davidson and Baron, along with BSN graduate Ashley Brewster, presented the class check to Oakland Police Officer's Association (OPOA) President and Oakland Police Sargent, Dominique Arotzarena on May 19 at the Oakland Police Department on Fifth Street. The money will be divided evenly between trust funds for the families of slain Oakland Police Sergeants Dunakin, Romans, and Sakai. All together they left behind two widows and ten children.
"We are truly honored and grateful for this generous donation," says Sgt. Arotzarena. "We work closely with nurses everyday and to see these future nurses giving up their time and money to give to the officers' families is admirable. We know how demanding their schedules must be along with debts from their studies, so we really appreciate this generous gift."
Margaret Early, PHD, RN, Chair, BSN Associate Professor, also attended the OPOA meeting and told the officers that the 57 BSN students generous donation is consistent with the University's mission to educate students to become highly skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals and that their behavior is consistent with what the faculty tries to teach them about nursing.
"We do talk about the fact that nurses do work with a lot of different disciplines and have a strong collaboration with public safety," says Dr. Early. "There is a very close relationship between the police and staff in the trauma department. The students rely and have contact with police all the time."
When working at Highland Hospital's emergency room, Baron says Oakland police have a great presence there and it is always comforting. "Officers are there with me in situations where I do not feel safe, for example drawing blood from an incarcerated patient. They are an integrated part of health care."
To donate directly to the slain officers' families or other designated charities, go to http://www.opoa.org/trustfunds.htm.
Back to front page »