After 18 years working in an emergency department, Dominic Sertori knows a thing or two about dealing with a crisis.
Any given day at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead sees him as the first point of call for as many as 180 families in Emergency, as well as overseeing at least 14 nurses per shift - which means being ready to spring into action any moment.
“It’s what we do best - we’re so diverse in what we can do, and we can switch on anytime, and it happens daily - where someone is having a fit or anything like that,” he said.
“Or we might be having our down time and eating dinner, then the ‘bat phone’ will ring and we leave our meals to go cold and go and do what we have to do. “
Sertori began his nursing career in Wagga Wagga and moved to Sydney to work briefly at Camperdown, before a switch to the new Children’s Hospital Emergency Department when it opened at Westmead in 1995.
Despite the pressure, long hours and hectic nature that comes with the job, it doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving anytime soon.
“I guess my favourite part is the unknown; working in the emergency department you’re not sure what your day will entail,” he said.
“Whether it’s a sick child where you’ll save a life or health promotion talks, or dealing with accidents, or lecturing families about health and safety procedures.”
An avid rugby league supporter, Dominic says he’ll do everything he can to get to the Bandaged Bear Cup game between the Eels and Bulldogs on Friday night, but knows his schedule isn’t always up to him.
“I also work with AUSMAT, which is the Australian Disaster Team, and at times I have to travel around the country or the world at the drop of a hat,” he laughed.
“A few years ago there was an earthquake and tsunami, so one night I was in Rozelle, and then by lunchtime the next day I was in Samoa for nine days sifting through the displaced people and all their medical needs.”
The tough parts of the job are well-documented; not every child who comes in to see Dominic and his staff is going to have a happy ending, but being able to help families and sick children when they need the most support and assistance, far outweighs the downsides.
“I’ve known kids when they were babies and then they come back through the system and I see them at 16 or 17 and the families always remember me - and that’s special to have them recognise you from when they were babies,” he said.
“To know that you’ve helped them through their lives, especially those who have chronic illnesses that you see over and over again is very special.”
The Bandaged Bear Cup kicks off at 7.45pm on Friday night at ANZ Stadium, click through for all the game day information!