Monday, September 5, 2011

Irene Day 5: What Holiday?

Today, reassigned to go out with a pair of social workers. That's the first time I've done any nursing job without another RN anywhere on site. Didn't even realize it until just now.

Spent most of the day in an extremely hard hit town. It's at the bottom of two mountains and the water came through in a flash flood, like an inland tsunami. Some buildings were flattened entirely, and many more were shoved off their foundations and will have to be demolished. The ones still standing have had all their contents completely destroyed; the high water mark for most of the town is well over ten feet. Even the rafters were underwater.

You've all seen photos of the aftermath of Katrina. This is like that.

Our plan there was to canvass the town and go door to door, finding individual people needing help. But before I could even cross the first street I got flagged down by a man with a nasty gash on his arm who needed help with it. I cleaned and dressed the wound, and before I was done a younger guy with a bad bruise was asking me to have a look at it.

The rest of the team fanned out across the town as planned but I set up shop outside at the big church on Main street. The shiny Red Cross vest makes me visible from a mile away, and I hung my stethoscope around my neck to advertise my job. Together that was as good as setting out a neon sign and using a bullhorn.

I spent the whole afternoon on first aid. People doing cleanup work get lots of scrapes and cuts, and those are always full of the mud that covers everything in the town. Then there are the bruises and sprains, not to mention the assorted skin rashes from spending too long wading in contaminated floodwaters. Nothing was too serious, but everyone really appreciated my being there for them.

I even got to be logistical assistance in a bigger way. Long story, that part, but I happened to learn that the supplies of some things were getting critically low. (Gloves, cleanup kits, proper filter masks, others.) That's technically not my department, but I decided I could make it my department, because lack of masks is a health concern. I collected lists and contact info, and called HQ to try and pressure the folks in Bulk Distribution. Long story short: the people here are going to get all of what they need, by tomorrow.

All in all I'm totally happy with what we accomplished today. Compared to the vast total need out here it is just a drop in the bucket, and that's intimidating. But in terms of the work doable by one human in a single day, I think every one of us should be proud.


  1. *squee* I am so happy that you are getting this opportunity and that you get to use your newly minted skills.

  2. We can only rebuild one brick at a time. Every little thing is one thing that someone else has to do. Or that gets left undone.
    Good job.