Our volunteers initially fill an important void by providing the most time-consuming yet critically important task of wound treatment. In the initial days after a disaster, AidWEST seeks or trains a “ready reserve” of first-responders that can speedily move–independently or in small groups–via the best and safest route to clinics and temporary hospitals. They “do whatever it takes” to work with the numerically few doctors and nurses, allowing these professionals to focus on the most demanding procedures. Our volunteers are trained to clean and dress wounds, transfer patients, dispense basic medicines, provide physical therapy, and provide a host of support services.
In the subsequent weeks and months, AidWEST medical team members walk from tent to tent to provide care and counseling to the most neglected. By doing this, we can assess the entire situation from the perspective of the victims, including their access to clean water and disease-free sanitation. We carry some food and rehydration supplies, since many victims have slipped into a dangerous level of starvation and thirst.
What else do our volunteers do? Often, in the first few
days after a
catastrophe like a flood or earthquake, simply keeping an injured or
post-operative patient warm and hydrated can make the difference between
life and death, so our volunteers go on search missions for sheets,
blankets and clean water with a real sense of urgency. Using
interpreters or their own language skills, our volunteers are able to
take the time to efficiently interview each patient in order to
determine the scope of their injuries and ailments. They then document
such, and inform doctors and nurses of critical medical issues that may
have cropped up after initial triage. Often they may provide the initial
paper documents of treatment.
Our AidWEST medical volunteers also ensure that those who
have broken bones or are incapacitated have workable care and feeding
solutions, seek out the most vulnerable such as orphans, unaccompanied
children, handicapped and elderly, and attend to their unique medical
and health needs. Physical therapy, mental health, trauma recovery and
emotional release are another area where our volunteers can provide
important aids to recovery, including constructive solutions like
ability-appropriate sports, storybook distribution, one-on-one chats,
and games for children.