On our three days out at sea, waiting out Hurricane Irene, our team resembled the crew of Gilligan’s Island, trapped on a boat. We walked aimlessly, bored, and tried coming up with ways to spend our time adrift. Talking about future and present possibilities of Hurricane Irene became a hobby. After the Continuing Promise 2011 team reviewed disaster relief care and plans, we thankfully received the news that Hurricane Irene would pass over the north of Haiti. She only sent rain to Port-au-Prince.
Haiti is not only the last stop for the USNS Comfort on Continuing Promise 2011, it has significant meaning to many onboard. In January of 2010, the Comfort sailed to Port-au-Prince immediately following the devastating earthquake, providing medical care to more than a thousand patients. Project HOPE volunteers were part of that disaster relief mission.
So after traveling 300 miles back from our out-to-sea excursion, and anchoring in Port-au-Prince during the pre-dawn hours, the excitement to get back to work seemed palpable.
However the assessment crew, who was sent out to survey the usability of the Terminal Varroux medical clinic site, came back with bad news. The site was too muddy.
It was decided for the next few days, patients will be treated at the Coast Guard base instead.
As patients began arriving aboard the hospital ship, HOPE volunteer nurses and translators, Murielle Nose and Ella Blot got to work.
Nose assisted in casualty receiving, getting patients checked in and helping with any translating needs. Blot helped with the only two cases of the day in the operating room. Because the patients did not sleep overnight on the ship, they did not know to not eat 24 hours before surgery. Therefore, the 10 cases planned dwindled to two rapidly.
Even though the mission only has three full working days left, the surgical teams will be pulling long days ahead and the medical site should be full tomorrow.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Blot, who is serving as a linguist aboard the USNS Comfort, is Ella Blot’s brother. Both were born in Haiti but raised in New York.
He called her asking her to join the mission in Haiti. She agreed.
Nose and Blot barely made it aboard the ship Saturday when they landed in Port-au-Prince in the late afternoon. However, it didn’t dampen Staff Sgt. Blot’s spirit, who is glad to have family aboard the ship. Both of his countries flags fly in casualty receiving, and he continuously smiles wherever you see him.
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