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Restraint Urged for Clinicians Seeking to Volunteer in Haiti

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Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

"The spontaneous volunteer has no place in disaster response," asserted James J. James, MD, DrPH, MHA, director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response, at the American Medical Association (AMA), during a webinar held today for medical and public health responders to assist them in preparing for the Haitian earthquake disaster relief effort.
For physicians and nurses who want to volunteer, Dr. James urged, "Don't go unless you are as part of an organized team or have assurance when you arrive that you will be joining one.

"In addition...

http://www.medscape.com/ (7th link under News - requires registration)

Registration is required to view site--it's FREE!!! Site has wonderful reliable nursing and healthcare info--including some free CEU'S along with FREE ARTICLEs from various nursing publications....well worth your viewing time. NRSKarenRN

Edited by NRSKarenRN

This is how I see it. I intend, at some point in time when I am better settled, to take the ARC disaster preparedness course and to become affiliated with an organized response team, if possible. I wasn't ready for this one, but maybe I will have the ability to respond to the next one.

If you read between the lines of this article, it sounds like some people are going down there unprepared and running about willie-nillie. It would never occur to me to something like that. Think about it, you could get kidnapped, murdered for the clothes on your back or just disappear.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

Think about it, you could get kidnapped, murdered for the clothes on your back or just disappear.

I guess that is a possibility, but the reports from several folks on the ground are that by and large people are peaceful and helping one another. I felt safer alone at night in Haiti than I've felt many places in the US putting gas in my car at night. Not saying it wouldn't/couldn't happen, just that it's good to hear that most people aren't that way.

www.livesayhaiti.blogspot.com for some on-the-ground reports of how some medical teams are being used.

I do agree that it's pretty irresponsible to just fly down there and expect to be housed, fed, and put to work when no one knows who you are, where you're from, and what you're doing there. Triple that if you don't speak Creole.

A better link please?

Edited by sirI

sirI, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB. Has 30 years experience.

A better link please?

This is a free site. You will have to register to view the article.

Or, you can try googling. You may find another link.

DolceVita, BSN, RN

Specializes in IMCU. Has 9 years experience.

Rather than the American Red Cross you may wish to think about an MRC (medical reserve corps). Red Cross volunteer nurses do perform much in the way of nursing duties and many of them find it frustrating. Remote Area Medical is a great organization as is doctors without borders (not all doctors by the way).

As for showing up in a disaster area without being affiliated -- yep it makes for a complete mess. Aid agencies will in fact considered you to be an "affected person". Essentially they have people who will process the affiliated groups and all of their credentials are checked before they deploy. I have been in the position of not being able to verify credentials for spontaneous volunteers and it just burns up time.

So join your local MRC or something now and be ready for the next one -- or for deployment later.

They just had another good size earthquake down there. I had thought about that possibility. From watching all those geological shows on History Channel/Science Channel I noticed that a lot of big earth occur in clusters. In the 1700 earth quakes swarm down in Memphis area along the Madras fault there was three earthquakes of 8 magnitude in two months and about a million after shocks.

DolceVita, BSN, RN

Specializes in IMCU. Has 9 years experience.

Wayyyyy off topic but we have the New Madrid fault too.

Kinda make you want to keep chlorination tablets in your pocket.

To those contemplating going to assist in the disaster relief efforts in Haiti, Fastaff has a contract with the government to supply nurses during disaster situations. They are staffing RNs at this point in anticipation of getting the official request from the U.S. military. If you can't handle death and chaos stay here in the states!!!! I have been doing travel nursing and I can tell you from dealing with some of the nurses that can't handle what happens in the hospitals in a controlled environment who surely couldn't function there. No one is allowed to fly to Haiti on there on!!! They are not receiving any domestic flights. If you go with a company like Fastaff you have to make a two week commitment and once you are there you will be there until the end of your two weeks. I will be going later after things are a little more settled as I did after hurricane Katrina. But be prepared to see things that make Katrina look like a picnic and we all know how that turned out. I don't believe you would have to worry about being kidnapped. They want food, water and shelter not tired nurses!!! LOL!!If you have a passport and a strong stomach then by all means go and help! Oh, by the way Fastaff is paying $40ph and you have to work 14 straight 12 hour shifts. I personally know that they can pay a lot more for what they are asking nurses to endure and I'm holding out until then. I have no problem with the conditions but I be dang if I'm going to put my life on the line for a company to make $200 ph off of my labor and only get $40 ph and I'm doing all the work and making all the sacrifices!

oncnursemsn

Specializes in Education and oncology. Has 30 years experience.

For those nurses who are in the Boston area, Partners in Health (Harvard affiliated) already has (had?) hospitals and clinics in PAP. Go the the PIH website, they are looking for nurses who can volunteer 2 weeks and are offering to pay the flight down to Dominican. You're warned that you might have to pay for flight home. I agree with previous posters- be prepared for suffering that can't be described. I went to N. Haiti 2 years ago and am still traumatized by the suffering- and we hadn't had earthquakes! To me it's almost unimaginable that just a few hundred miles from our shores that so many are still a full week later suffering. We will never know the accurate death toll. Tragic.

If you read between the lines of this article, it sounds like some people are going down there unprepared and running about willie-nillie. It would never occur to me to something like that. Think about it, you could get kidnapped, murdered for the clothes on your back or just disappear.

I REALLY DON"T LIKE THIS COMMENT .... The people of Haiti have been devastated and all you can think about, is how savage they maybe. The horrendous things you speak of, can happen anywhere!! :down:

heron, ASN, RN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 40 years experience.

I REALLY DON"T LIKE THIS COMMENT .... The people of Haiti have been devastated and all you can think about, is how savage they maybe. The horrendous things you speak of, can happen anywhere!! :down:

I took it a bit differently. The reality is that when chaos reigns, bad things tend to happen more often. I can't speak for the poster of that comment, but I know from living on the coast during hurricane season that more people out and about makes for more work - and more risk - for rescuers.

buddiage

Specializes in critical care transport. Has 10 years experience.

I agree with other posters. Volunteering to go down should be thoughtful. This isn't the yearly county fair looking for volunteers for the 4-H booth. This is tragedy to the fullest extent. If I WERE in that situation, I think it's entirely possible that I would do anything it took, EVEN BEING SAVAGE, to do what I could for my daughter's survival. This is beyond etiquette and social inhibitions, and I think it's important to acknowledge it.

C-DIFF PHIL RN

Specializes in icu/er ccrn.

I agree with other posters. Volunteering to go down should be thoughtful. This isn't the yearly county fair looking for volunteers for the 4-H booth. This is tragedy to the fullest extent. If I WERE in that situation, I think it's entirely possible that I would do anything it took, EVEN BEING SAVAGE, to do what I could for my daughter's survival. This is beyond etiquette and social inhibitions, and I think it's important to acknowledge it.

I REALLY DON"T LIKE THIS COMMENT .... The people of Haiti have been devastated and all you can think about, is how savage they maybe. The horrendous things you speak of, can happen anywhere!! :down:

hate to burst anyones bubble but haiti is a 3rd world country, always has and will be. and like life in other places of a similair economic/social make-up life is cheap and easily overlooked. now you throw in a natural disaster...you best beware of your surroundings...as a old army sgt. of mine always said "stay alert & stay alive".

DolceVita, BSN, RN

Specializes in IMCU. Has 9 years experience.

hate to burst anyones bubble but haiti is a 3rd world country, always has and will be. and like life in other places of a similair economic/social make-up life is cheap and easily overlooked. now you throw in a natural disaster...you best beware of your surroundings...as a old army sgt. of mine always said "stay alert & stay alive".[/quote

I'll tell you that calling any country 3rd world is offensive to those from that country. It also smacks of hubris. Also, historically the murder rate of Haiti, per capita, is exactly the same as that for the USA -- so the idea that life is cheap there would probably be offensive to them too and inaccurate. Poor populations don't think life is cheap . Neither do black populations -- although I am hoping that wasn't what you were intimating.

I do agree that in a natural disaster one better have a grip and excellent situational awareness. However, that would be equally the case if this disaster had been in the USA -- and has been the case.

I REALLY DON"T LIKE THIS COMMENT .... The people of Haiti have been devastated and all you can think about, is how savage they maybe. The horrendous things you speak of, can happen anywhere!! :down:

To be honest, I think the quote from Oramer comes from the articles I've seen about gangs looting and killing people off the streets, or piling up dead bodies to block everyone from getting down a particular street, etc. Yes, while it was a tragedy and everyone's been devastated, it's also a free ticket to the surviving gangs to "pillage and plunder" while no one's keeping them in check.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

Guys, I have been in Haiti...granted, not post-disaster, but been there nonetheless. I'm telling you, I walked down the streets at night by myself all the time. Never had one bad thing happen, and never even had any close calls.

Can things happen? Yes. Could something have happened? Of course, but the same is true for Podunkville, USA where I live right now were a terrible natural disaster to occur. I don't think it's very accurate to paint the folks of Haiti as bloodthirsty savages who will murder and pillage the first person they come across because they value life so little. My friends on the ground in Port-au-Prince say they don't know where the reports/rumors of looting and rioting and mayhem are coming from because it's not happening where they are.

All the same, it's not fair to burden an already burdened relief system with another random person to house, feed, and put to work. If you're not with an organization and/or don't have plans for someone to meet you on the ground there, going is a stupid idea.