The Deputing of Disaster Relief Team

After earthquake struck Haiti, Cathi Goldfischer, RN, made an alert call to NJ-1 DMAT nurses. By the next day, the team was all prepared to go ahead. The organization was done in Atlanta by getting malaria prophylactic dose and completed immunizations. The NJ-1 DMAT team reached Haiti on Jan. 15.

Being a part of National Disaster Medical System, NJ-1 DMAT is comprised of group of professionally trained nurses, who undertakes disaster medical care, basically to citizens of New Jersey, they were made use of in entire U.S. The team has organized their disaster relief operations like Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustave. They have participated in events, like previous two inaugurations and State of the Union addressing occasions.

Going for relief work after earthquake in Haiti is team’s maiden international participation.

Goldfischer a NP and being chief of local ambulance corps, usually mentioned about her DMAT exposures with co-nurses at Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center. The narrations were very exciting.

It was never though that in a period less than a year after completing intense training, she shall be with Goldfischer in the Haiti assignment.

Basic and Creative Care:

All the time while in Haiti, Goldfischer and Keys performed their nursing activities in Petionville. It is a field medical hospital situated at mountain top. The patients had fractures with infections. Some of them were suffering from TB. Two of women there, gave births. Down the mountain there were around 50,000 Haitians living in a tent city.

These people made use of crutches and plastic tiles of ceiling in place of splints and carried their affected family members on doors traveling miles of distance to the base hospital.

Surgical Procedures in the Street:

The medical personnel were using drills for pinning the patient’s fractured femur in the street itself. Klings were used and stabilizing of the limb was done by putting it in a gallon jug surrounded by stones.

There was acute shortage of gloves, dressing and other materials. The gloves were applied Purell for reusing. Betadine and normal saline was mixed to wash the wounds. Crutches were used as splints. Water bottles were used to keep the scalpels. Used IV tubings were again used to wash the wounds. Every thing found lying was made use off.

Looking After the Orphans:

There was a 2 week child, whose mother had died and was with his father. Water bottle was made for the child using glove tip as the nipple. Tylenol was not available for washing hands.

There were Haitian medical Students, nursing students local individuals came forward to help. The interpreters were hired.  Their wages were in the form of ready to eat meals and bottled water. There were nurse to nurse babies, whose mothers expired or were suffering dehydration and were not capable to take care of them.

Haitian community members and church workers were busy in informing the victim sufferers about the base hospital, who were living in camps.

Spreading the Nursing Care:

The team members also went out assisted by army either in their trucks or on foot to provide on the spot medical care and patients requiring treatment from the hospital were directed there.

The team also visited damaged coast guard base for many days taking care of patients, who suffered electrocution, burns, amputations due to injuries, head injuries, open fractures and spinal injuries.

More than hundred patients were examined daily, put in practice a system of communication and care. Segregating patients according to severity, the dates and care provided were written on the dressings for keeping track of all this.

Patients needing evacuation were identified and a tape affixed on their heads.

Some other patients were advised to make a check for extra care from the team on the next visit. They would come and wait under trees. The situation was bad, Haitians were very thankful for our care.

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