Volunteer WA doctors have tough road ahead in Haiti




Posted on January 14, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 14 at 2:38 PM

SEATAC, Wash. - Several doctors and nurses from across Washington state are on their way to assist with the crisis in Haiti. They are part of the group Medical Teams International.

Doctor Dan Diamond's day actually began Wednesday night and it will continue into Friday morning. He's a family practice physician in Bremerton, now headed to Haiti with all the expertise and equipment he can muster.

Diamond is not traveling light. Just one of his four bags tipped the scales at Sea-Tac Airport at 129 pounds. But he knows he'll have to be completely self-sufficient once he arrives in Haiti. That means carrying enough water and ready-to-eat meals to keep him going for several weeks.

He says he may sleep outside in case of further aftershocks.

"Because what I don't want to do is show up and become a burden to somebody else who's already there and on the ground trying to figure out their own lives," said Diamond.

Medical Teams International already has partners in place in Haiti and has staked out several rooms of a burn unit a few miles outside the capitol so Diamond can start seeing patients immediately.

"Just start someplace. Because the easiest thing to do would be to get off that airplane and go, 'I'm going to get back on that airplane because I don't know where to start.' And we're not going to do that," said Diamond.

He knows the bandages and antibiotics he's carrying will go fast and he expects the majority of his patients will be suffering from extreme trauma.

"People have been trapped and hit by debris and we're hearing word that there's millions of people that are injured," said Diamond.

Diamond has done this before. He was the leader of the team's response unit following Hurricane Katrina several years ago.