Medical volunteers prepare, plan for work in Iraq

Three veteran volunteers with Northwest Medical Teams will be part of the first emergency medical response to Iraq. Jackie Gust, a nurse from Portland, Ore., Dr. Michael Pendleton, a physician from Hood River, Ore., and Dr. Catlin Goss, a physician from Seattle, are among the first medical providers slated to travel to the country.
"We're grateful we have medical volunteers who can travel with us on short notice and who can work in emergency scenarios," says Bas Vanderzalm, president of Northwest Medical Teams. "We're communicating with our staff physician in northern Iraq to monitor the situation there. The circumstances are uncertain, but we can make preparations now that will serve us well if war is declared."

Northwest Medical Teams is one of only five U.S. agencies recently to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of State for on-going work in northern Iraq and one of a handful of groups currently working in the country.

Security concerns last month prompted Northwest Medical Teams' staff to move their offices, including records, equipment and supplies, to an undisclosed rural location.