Advanced Practice Toolkits for Emergency Preparedness

Public Health Seattle and King County (PHSKC) Medical Reserve Corps called into Action!

Recently PHSKC MRC deployed two of its volunteers to assist the American Red Cross after the storms in Joplin. Below you will find two letters from the field as the MRC volunteers worked to respond to this recent natural disaster. More details and stories from can be found on the PHSKC MRC Facebook page here.

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Day one was confusing, you hit the ground and want to start helping people right away but then again you have not been assigned a real task (yet). However I was soon up to my eye balls in work. You go into this with an idea in your head of how you think things are going to go down but of course they don’t happen that way and you then learn you have to not only think outside the box, but you need to forget what a box even is. One must go with the flow, take initiative and become ultra creative in order to thrive in this type of situation.

Day two (or three, I forget) we went into the field handing out food, water and supplies. After work David and I went to the shelter just to look around.  The night manager asked us to work that night due to short staffing and of course we accepted her invitation (going with the flow). At the start of the night things were very unorganized. We had twelve patients with many special medical needs and after reviewing their charts I notice that none of them had their vitals or blood sugar(s) checked in who knows how long. So I formed a team to help me assess every patient in order to make sure they were stable enough to be in our shelter. I also initiated a “general needs” survey, in order to identify things that we needed or things that needed to be done (taking initiative).

In the end one guy got sent to the ER, we did not have an oxygen regulator (that worked) so someone who was having a possible MI got oxygen but David had to hold the tank close to patients face in order to blow the oxygen from the tank directly onto the patients face (being ultra creative). We also needed CPAP machines, a bunch of different meds (glucose gel, albuterol, kids Benadryl etc), oxygen masks and just plain more oxygen tanks in general.

This night set the tone for the next 24 hours. I had a lot of different things to get done. We needed oxygen regulators however you need a doctor’s prescription in order to get them, so I called my doctor that morning, told him what was going on and he faxed it in. Also more oxygen, so I called Apria healthcare that day and they made a STAT delivery of more tanks. We needed meds so I went to the make shift ER downtown and picked them up on the way to work that evening.

It was a bunch of little tasks that added up the big picture and a lot of turning chaos into order. I loved it.

George Uri
PHSKC MRC Volunteer

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I cannot say enough how much this first-time deployment to a disaster response has affected me so profoundly.  I am grateful to have met so many genuinely wonderful people. 

The kindness, generosity and optimism exhibited by both the victims of the disaster as well as the volunteers were overwhelming.  The devastation of one’s home and the accompanying losses on so many levels that the victims have had to endure did nothing to diminish their faith in themselves and in each other, be they friends, family or strangers.  Dave, the outpouring of help from all walks of life (kids, teens, elderly, church members, etc) was impressive!  I wish you were there to see it.  I came away feeling inspired, appreciative and optimistic.
I was assigned to the Emergency Aid Stations at the Joplin High School and across Duquesne Elementary School wherein a team of us (RN, MD or EMT and Crisis Counselor) canvassed the neighborhood providing first aid, psychological first aid, resource information, and supplies to the survivors.  I also helped provide nursing services to the homeless shelter at the MSSU.  My final assignment was at The Bridge, which housed the Multi-Agency Resource Center, a one-stop post-disaster offering of a myriad of services to the survivors of the tornado disaster.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.  I am grateful to have contributed to this relief effort and hope to continue helping when and as needed.
Ely Nichols
PHSKC MRC Volunteer

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