I am interestered in hearing stories of nurses who assisted in disaster reliefRegister Today!
- by SN15671 May 16, '12I am interested in hearing some stories of nurses who participated in disaster relief. Were you trained for the situation? After you story, please give some insight on how you think nurses and the community can better prepare for disasters.Last edit by SN15671 on May 16, '12
- May 16, '12 by SN15671No, not homework. No longer in school.
- May 17, '12 by BostonTerrierLoverRNI wasn't trained for it, I wish I had been. It was a disaster to me, but many had it much worse.
Monday August, 26 2005-to the following Monday. Hurricane Katrina.
I was ER Coordinator in a small Critical Access Hospital in Central Mississippi. We had many volunteers, Red Cross Vehicle Team, UNICEF, and Mississippi State Department of Health Workers making a base out of 14 Trailers the Government had sent down, and we were supposed to be in a "Safe Zone," as Hurricane Camille in 196O's (also a Cat 5) came through our area with relatively no damage, minor flooding.
It was amazing, I have never seen so many helicopters bringing Vent patients in to a crippled hospital. We had a Generator, but always ran on borrowed diesel. We ran 1-2 Jugs ahead at the most the whole time. The average daily highs were well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the private rooms all contained two patients. We had taken in everyone who needed electricity such as Asthma and COPD patients, Vent patients, etc. We had several storm injuries that were "local," and we field triaged for 2 days straight everything from Dysentary, to dehydration, to injuries. I spent several days in the hospital sleeping 4 hours between 16-22 hour shifts, finally collapsing from exhaustion mentally, physically, and spiritually on day 4. It was a nightmare.
Mississippi Hospitals have since been prepared for disaster MUCH better than 2005, although we had only 3 actual casualties, 54 bodies were brought to us. There was a nursing home in Central Mississippi where a Generator was placed in a basement killing 12 residents, and 2 staff members. Much education is needed to prep Nurses who have any chance of being involved in Disaster Response. You can't imagine the weight placed on your shoulders in such an event as terrified people look to you for guidance, care, and sometimes lifesaving aid that you may or may not be prepared for training wise, or ability wise in needed instruments, space requirements, and devices needed.
We had 3 emergency lifesaving surgeries done under brutal conditions, after air conditioning, electricity (main), and plumbing had went out. I worked there 2 more years after Hurricane Katrina, and amazingly we never talked about what happened during it ever again. Life just went back to some form of normality, and we embraced it. We tried to block out the images of people begging for clean water, ice, and food. The national guard with automatic weapons overseeing the gas lines until they ran out completely, and water/ice lines that often ran out with panic stricken mothers of infants begging for water for formula. Or begging for formula,- I remember one women screaming for breast milk, or clean water.
That said, I have seen many normal average human beings turn into animals, but I saw many more rise to the ranks of heros and super heroes that week. There will always be overwhelming selfishness, and amazing sacrifice in times like these. I thank all those who sacrificed. I know who many of you are!
BostonLast edit by TheCommuter on May 17, '12 : Reason: changed '2007' to '2005'
- May 17, '12 by GitanoRNi'm rushing out the door to a meeting i'll get back to you on this subject...aloha~
- May 17, '12 by pockunitAmerican Red Cross offers disaster training. Go sign up!
- May 17, '12 by GitanoRNi must confess that this is an issue dear and close to my heart, and one that i shall never forget. after completing the four primary disaster classes several of my colleagues me included, continued to volunteer in order to keep an active member of the current dat team, totally oblivious to the fact that we were going to be utilizing what we just learned in an actual disaster. needless to say, local disaster response experience is required for the membership in the dshr system. admittedly, at the time of receiving the call to assist in the disaster of the devastating hurricane katrina, i lived in atlanta georgia. assuredly, we got the call and there was no thinking it twice, our facility gathered all medical personnel that was involved in the disaster team. first of all, we implemented a chart with all information on how to triage by colors and separate each pt. to the correct team color. for example, red team handled trauma pts. and this pts. would have a red tag, green team less severed patients, yellow handled those pts. that were ambulatory and were transported to shelters, and the elderly were place in nursing homes & hospices throughout, an so on. needless to say, as i look back and reflect on how calm we handled this horrific rescued it amazes me on how we nurses truly came together, working with one purpose to attend to those in need. however, there were horrible cases that will be embedded in my mind for as long as i live, not to mentioned the awful smell coming from the bodies that lay everywhere. furthermore, a female pt. that lost her husband, and her 3 children and while she waited to receive assistance she was raped several times; i will never forget the state of shock she was in and how scared she was to see a man trying to help her. unquestionably, i'm certain that we all learned a lesson once it was done and over with, never to waste any time in responding to any disaster. at this level, i can't continue with all that we experienced while trying to make sense and assist those in such chaos and devastation. obviously, i would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that were involved in assisting the katrina disaster. it only goes to show how fragile we truly are.
- May 17, '12 by canesdukegirlI went down to Katrina with the NC disaster team. After reading the posts of those who were also there, it brings back harsh memories of desperation, helplessness and confusion experienced by the residents affected by this debilitating disaster.
I worked in a mobile disaster hospital equipped with an OR-which is where my primary work took place, but I was also working in the triage tent. Everyone was briefed during the flight in, and we were briefed again by the staff members at the mobile hospital when we landed. There were long lines of patients seeking care for cuts that had become infected, people that had been the victims of violence, open tibia fxs, and lots of people needing care as the result of dehydration/malnutrition. We also treated pts who had lost all of their medications-diabetics, asthmatics, pediatric pts..the list was endless.
As we worked in our mobile hospital, the waft of rotting trash, decomposing bodies (human and animal) and stagnant water routinely assaulted our senses. Helicopters landed every hour. The heat was close to unbearable, but it was difficult to complain about the heat when faced with pts who had lost everything they had, including their family members. Several of our staff members succumbed to the heat because they were so focused on pt care that they neglected their own needs, and they became pts themselves.
We were protected 24/7 by the SWAT team, and we were warned not to leave the confines of the hospital without force protection. A psychologist accompanied my team during my deployment, and he and I went on 3 mile walks to the coast just to clear our heads and talk about what we had seen. I think that man saved my very sanity; during my 7 day deployment, I slept only 6-8 hours. It was hard to choke down food in that kind of heat, so my caloric intake averaged about 400-500/d. It was brutal. After triaging pts, doing emergency surgeries and pitching in with logistics for 16+ hours, as soon as I laid my head down on my cot, I was being radioed to the OR for another case. But I still couldn't find it within me to complain.
If you want to join a disaster team, find out if your state has a state medical response team. These teams are broken into regions, and you will be able to sign up on a state roster for your region.
Feel free to PM me if you need more info.
- May 17, '12 by rnMommi’m anrn in south fl and i know no one wants a disaster to happen but it will, somewhere,sometime. i used to live in california with earthquakes and i know californiais not prepared for the "big one" like it should be.
i wouldlove to work for samaritan’s purse or the red cross someday. im currentlyplanning on going to nigeria for a while to work in a small hospital. i waslooking for some sort of degree in emergency preparedness/ humanitarian. ithink i found something you can take on online from univ.of denver co. let me know if you find anything out on howto be on call. good luck!