Some of the medical personnel volunteering in Haiti are from central Florida's Health Alliance Group. They are surgeons, nurses, and volunteers, like Timothy Hawkins. He spent the last five days treating Haitian patients.
"It was like an emergency room continually in the surgical clinic" said Hawkins.
Hawkins normally volunteers in Haiti every four months, treating patients and giving them basic care. This time, he saw a constant stream of people being brought in on stretchers.
"We saw a lot of broken bones, lots of infections, a lot of trauma, crushed injuries to soft tissue. Things that we're not usually dealing with on an elective basis" said Hawkins. "What's the worst case that you saw? A 1 year old that happened yesterday. Even though the earthquake was a couple of weeks ago, part of a building fell on her feet. And now she's got pneumonia. We're trying to get her transferred out to the comfort ship where they have a neonatal intensive care unit."
Hawkins said his team had plenty of medical supplies, but fought other conditions.
"We had plenty of supplies. We brought our own. The main thing was fuel for the generator. The lights would go out in the middle of surgery. We'd have to operate with flashlights" said Hawkins. "We only got 3 or 4 hours of sleep at night. We didn't have enough nurses to take care of the patients, so we had to stay up with them to make sure they were doing okay. Because they're not your typical patients, they had a lot of problems with infections and antibiotics and oxygen and things like that."
He says they couldn't stop. Their mission was too critical.
"Probably half or more of the people we treated would have died if we hadn't been here" added Hawkins."
And he says the need continues.
"They still have a lot of need down here so any other volunteers that have an opportunity to come, I would say for the next 6 to 8 weeks, they'll be plenty of surgical procedures and a lot of medical care needed" said Hawkins.
How do volunteers get to Haiti? It's a challenge. Right now, the only flights going in and out of the Haitian airport, are military flights.
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