Team 1 Day 4 Update Kyla

Port au Prince, Jan. 22, 2010 — I had the pleasure of talking to all five members of Team 1 (aka Bad Idea Dinosaur, aka Team Sanjay Gupta Pisses IV Fluid) today. Today was an effective, efficient, and useful day, and included the first beers they were able to crack open when finally relaxing together at the end of the day.

SPECIFIC UPDATES

ATTN Suncere: The med supplies are still in Alabama. They include 1000s of lbs of supplements, which Thomas wants but has no way to transport, store, or distro. Phyllis Light's herbal community has donated enough supplies to set up a huge clinic, but this can't happen without a permanent location. So… Suncere— yes, they're there, but just leave them be for now.

ATTN Katya: See Suncere's note above. Thomas is not a Chinese herbalist, but he's been to China and studied the basics. He would like:

  • Coryvialis yanhuso (pain reliever — sorry, spelling…)
  • Any basic cold & flu formula — whatever is your favorite. Lots of people with colds.

LOGISTICS

Good news: There is definitely a place for everyone who wants to volunteer!

1) Work/Housing: Fidget and Hexe finally got their hands on some regular old EMS patients and managed to transport them (riding in the back of modified pickup truck) to a hospital. They found the University of Miami Hospital (also referred to as "the UN hospital", the one near the airport you keep hearing about on TV) was organized and understaffed. They were told outright that their help would be "welcome and useful" — the hospital needed people. Best news: the team can camp out in the compound which is, ironically, protected by US marines.

2) Longer term possibility of work/housing: Yesterday the team met a trauma nurse named Joanne Wilson who is the lone international medical help set up in a 3-story school/hospital, complete with operating rooms, security guard, and no earthquake damage. 200 Haitian people are living nearby in a tent city. This lady is one of those awesome, independent, crazy dedicated people, on the "loony awesome end of liberation theology" (no strained punk/Christian vibes here). Daniel described her as "really cool, someone we'd get along with really well." He shared a couple choice quotes from her.

She invited this team and more to stay with her: "everyone's totally welcome but only if they're ok with my extremely foul mouth." The building is structurally sound and located in Delmas 24.

3) Supplies: The ER doctor with whom they're working went to a UN meeting and registered World Harvest, himself, and the team (our kids) working with him as an NGO relief agency, which means they are on a list to get medical equipment.

4) World Harvest relationship: The strain noted yesterday between our team and their hosts at the World Harvest orphanage turns out to be less serious than our team worried it might be. The daughter of the founder explained to them that the issues were not about our team, but internal politics within World Harvest. The team was really happy to know bridges are not being burnt and they can leave on good terms with good connections with World Harvest. Thomas is talking with them today or tomorrow to figure out how they'll handle payment of the housing charge of $25/person/day.

The team is happy to have other places to stay and work, though, without being dependent on the mission, which was getting stressful. The two groups' goals were the same but their methods were different, with different personalities. "Yo! We're a bunch of dirty kids under a lot of stress, things come out of our mouths…." They stressed frustration at being judged on appearances and language instead of the (all day long, very hard, very useful) work they've been doing.

GENERAL UPDATES

Hexe said today was a pretty good day. In the morning they went out to the tent city by the National Palace. Again, it was frustrating in the beginning to work with people who don't respect or use consensus at all. Eventually they moved on to a different tent city where they got to use their EMS skills, which was "really cool." Jeff agreed, saying "We finally got to do stuff we’re trained for… without the equipment we're trained to use to do it." Hexe agreed but added that "so much of what we've been doing is simple wound management, so it's not beyond our scope at all." Basically, it felt good to be able to apply their higher level training to actually save lives.

At the second tent city, the team found two patients. One had head trauma with a possible c-spine injury and the other was presenting medically as a cardiac patient, though later they found out was not. The team transferred them to Miami U's hospital in the back of a modified pickup truck. Hexe said, "It was invaluable to have a place to transport to — because as EMTs what we do is transport and the hospital was so welcoming and inviting us to come back and help out or stay there."

Thomas said, "One, if not both of the people who got transported wouldn't have gotten medical attention if it hadn't been for us. I'm gonna go to bed with sweet dreams of actually helping people tonight because of that."

Hexe summed up the day saying her first beer in Haiti "is lovely. It really really is." She's doing really good right now because they have the possibility of being more autonomous and being able to work closely with the hospital. Hexe is hoping trends continue and they keep getting handed cool opportunities to do stuff. Even if they do nothing more then treat people in tent cities and hand them to a hospital, she said, that's completely amazing, good work.

She's seen no change in major injuries: most are wound care and secondary care of wounds that were poorly dealt with in the beginning, and that will continue to need treatment.

Her highlight of the day was asking the doctors at the hospital if they needed extra help and them being welcoming, telling her "of course you can come and help, we always need more people. Everyone's doing every job, you'll get moved around a lot," but they are welcomed, useful, and they can camp there.

The hospital opportunity is really good too because, since the hospital would allow them a place to work after dark, instead of traveling back outside town to the compound where they're currently staying. Of course, being in at 6 or 7pm forces them take time to relax, and that's really important.

Jeff said it's gonna be difficult to go back to Boston. He kind of hesitated at his words, and then went on slowly, "Shit's bad, it's really bad here. But it's a good crew. The days are insane and then the nights we have wonderful times together. We want to try to go to Thomas's farm in Alabama to decompress" when they come back. Every day I ask them about their mental health, and every day they are laughing and making jokes and generally ribbing each other. They are working incredibly hard during the days, to the point of exhaustion for some, but they feel they are being effective, and they are taking care of each other.

SAFETY: EARTHQUAKES CONTINUE DAILY

Jeff reported that there's been 6 earthquakes since they arrived Tuesday night; they haven't gone a day without 1-2 aftershocks. The one last night was big enough that everyone left the room and went outside. Jeff just heard a noise, but some of them felt it. It was a bigger one — out of the 6, they've only really felt 2-3, the others they just heard about having happened. When the big one happened Wednesday morning, everyone was just like "holy shit."

They are all sleeping outdoors, and avoid going into buildings if they can. When they have to go into a building, they walk around it first and look for cracks. Jeff said, "we're not engineers but you can kind of tell from outside of some of the damage. We're trying to be careful about it. There's a million buildings flattened but a lot are leaning over so that even small aftershocks can dump one. Hopefully they'll taper off."

The man they found today with head trauma with a possible c-spine injury had a building fall on him in an aftershock. Today was the first time since they've been there that they heard of someone getting hurt by a building falling from an aftershock.

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