By: Larry Stock, MD Antelope Valley Hospital
November 8, 2013, a massive Typhoon hit the Philippine Islands of Leyte and East Samar provinces. Named Typhoon Haiyan internationally and Yolanda locally in the Philippines, this storm created a track of destruction far greater than the typical typhoons that the Philippines annually experience. The federal government of the Philippines took charge of disaster response and simultaneously invited international humanitarian assistance. Many governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) responded to this call for assistance.
I received an email on November 10 from Access Aid International (aai.org.au) to join a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).
Four days later I left Los Angeles and landed in Manila. There I met up with the four other members of our DART: An Emergency Medicine (EM) resident from Highland, two Australian nurses, and a team leader who was completing his PhD in Sociology and was a special forces reserve soldier in the Australian Army.
We flew as a group the next day to Panay Island. By meeting with and listening to the many Philippine government leaders in charge of the disaster response, we rapidly defined an area of need where we could help. The town of Concepcion and its chain of inhabited islands had been in the path of destruction. Many of the boats used by the people to get from the smaller islands to the main island had been destroyed.
Water wells had been contaminated by salt water. Fisherman had lost their homes and boats – their way of making a living and feeding their families. Widespread destruction of clinics, hospitals, schools, and homes left most families effected. AAI took on the responsibility to work with the municipal (local) health officer and provincial (regional) health officer to assist the area of Concepcion with:
• Direct patient care in conjunction with the local medical and nursing staff
• Resupply of medications and needed supplies for clinics and hospitals
• Aid in rebuilding of clinics