Saturday, March 18, 2006 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Clinic and crowd Clinic and crowd
Tim shooting surgery Tim shooting surgery
Clinic crowded lobby Clinic crowded lobby
Boy wearing “amulet”: a spent bullet shell with herbs inside, sold to him by a medicine man Boy wearing “amulet”: a spent bullet shell with herbs inside, sold to him by a medicine man
Hiked to mudslide again. Saw rotting carcasses and bones- all of animals (any human remains get reported to the officials and collected immediately). We were prepped to expect gross things because the mud is still shifting, especially in the rain. Smells bad in certain spots. Spotted a letter addressed to Honolulu in the debris. Wow, of all the things to find in the miles and miles and acres of disaster zone.

There are soldiers stationed at some parts of the mudslide to prevent looters, though one would have to be pretty desperate to loot. The mud is 20 feet high, and if you never told me, I would never know there were actually homes under there. It really looks like the moon. You’d have to dig a whole lot to get to something. I still can’t get over the magnitude of this disaster, and the fact that this might not have been the last of the slides.

Over at the medical clinic, they’re very busy with 200+ patients a day. Most of the patients are no longer affected by urgent-care issues from the mudslide. If they are, it’s more like secondary issues. It’s kind of a mob scene down there. Our soldier escorts have been drafted into service as crowd control. The people aren’t unruly, just desperate and numerous. I’ll never complain about American HMOs again.

I admire the work the AMM is doing. The volunteers are so dedicated, spending their own vacation time and personal money just to help total strangers. They put in long days in stiflingly hot conditions, with the constant white noise of screaming babies and multiple conversations going on in the background. Not everyone has a medical background, but laypeople can still be useful. Alex is taking names to keep a record. Aida is finding medications in the pharmacy.

I sat around waiting for a dramatic case to happen- the other day, we missed a boy with head trauma after a car accident. While nothing sensational occured on my watch, I did pay attention to some of the AMM doctors working with the villagers. There was a little boy, probably 8, with a makeshift lucky charm tied around his torso. It was a spent bullet shell with herbs inside, sold to him by a local medicine man. After he got his Western medicine he looked so grateful to Dr. Goodman. His smile was so sweet. I understand now why the staff keeps returning for more missions.
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