Sunday, September 10, 2006

Any Means Necessary

Lost in historical research and late summer lethargy I have hardly noticed that more than two weeks have passed since I posted to Slabtown, but I was jolted out my reverie this week by the story of Susan Kuhnhausen, 51. She is an emergency room nurse at Providence Hospital. Coming home from work on Wednesday evening, she found a burglar armed with a hammer in her home.

It’s a story we hear about all the time. Someone confronts a burglar in their home and they are killed. The burglar ends up being a wayward teenager, or a hard core loser who ends up on Death Row. Not this time, though. Susan Kuhnhausen defended herself and Edward Dalton Haffey, a hard core loser, was strangled to death.

Haffey had a long record for violent and drug related crime, which included a conviction for conspiracy to commit murder. Everyone in Portland is glad that Susan Kuhnhausen was the one who survived the confrontation.

Kuhnhausen has been an emergency room nurse for more than thirty years, as well as an activist for democracy in the workplace and safety for nurses. She has been very outspoken about the danger of her job. Nurses are twelve times more likely to be assaulted at work than the average person.

“I've been assaulted twice and bit, hit, kicked and punched by patients . . . who know better . . .,” Kuhnhausen wrote for the Emergency Nurses Association Newsletter, “The potential for violence at the hospital always exists and we need to send a message that it's not okay to assault any public servant whether it be a police officer, firefighter or nurse.”

The neighborhood where Kuhnhausen lives, near SE 82nd and Alder, has seen a lot of crime recently. Neighbors have been reporting a wave of car prowls and burglaries for several weeks. In one case a woman with small children in the house used a kitchen knife to chase away an armed intruder. Kuhnhausen’s neighbors say she is a “brave and courageous woman.”

Neighbors Kuhnhausen went to for help after the confrontation said that she was fairly calm. She is used to working in crisis mode and she handles stress well, or she wouldn’t have lasted 30 years in emergency room nursing. She suffered only slight injuries and bruises in the fight.

State law allows a person to use a “reasonable amount of deadly force” to protect themselves in their homes. No charges will be brought against Kuhnhausen in this case. It is unusual, though, because usually in these cases a firearm or a knife is involved. Kuhnhausen strangled the man, who was considerably smaller than she, with her bare hands.

“When you're fighting for your life, you will use whatever means is necessary,” said Portland Officer Cathe Kent, a police spokeswoman. “In this case, the homeowner did what she had to do to get out safely.”

Kuhnhausen is a grandmother and has been helping to raise her grandchild in her home. Thank god the child was not there on Wednesday night. All I can say is, “Go Grandma.”

4 Comments:

Blogger Kenrg said...

"Go Grandma!" Hell, Yes!

This is something new to me: "Nurses are twelve times more likely to be assaulted at work than the average person." Amazing! I never would have thought that assault was such a danger for nurses.

And with her bare hands.... Like you said, "Go Grandma!"

8:47 PM  
Blogger colette said...

Now it's known that the burglar was actually a "hit man" hired by her ex-husband, he was there to kill. Susan is my hero! ER nursing is very physical, many nights handling belligerent drunks gave her the edge.

7:36 PM  
Blogger um_susu said...

Susan, Just watched your story on the I.D. channel and had to reach out to you. You are such an amazing, strong, inspiring woman. I hope you get to read this and know you are a super woman. Love you for the sake of female kind. Seriously! You are awesome! So glad you are alive and hopefully doing very well!!!

2:05 PM  
Blogger um_susu said...

Susan, Just watched your story on the I.D. channel and had to reach out to you. You are such an amazing, strong, inspiring woman. I hope you get to read this and know you are a super woman. Love you for the sake of female kind. Seriously! You are awesome! So glad you are alive and hopefully doing very well!!!

2:06 PM  

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