note from baratunde: in order to get this to you as soon as possible, I have not corrected any typosFrom: Anil Menon
Date: Saturday, January 16, 2010 4:16pm ET
Subject: iPhone note from travel – “typed with two fat thumbs”


I’ve now been en route to Haiti in some fashion for almost 4 days.  It is four days since the earthquake.  Now in my wilderness fellowship in emergency medicine I don’t make many faculty meetings, but I did go to the monthly meeting this wednesday, I had just given a talk on wilderness survival so I felt like I should go.  It was then that that bob Norris expressed his need for volunteers to go with intrnational medical corps.  I was quick to answer,  the few pictures I saw were heart breaking and I went into medicine to be of service.  The next month I was s heduled to complete a tour of duty with the air national guard at kingsley field.  The commAnd of the 173rd fighter wing made it easy for me to move this tour back and contribute my time.

This same global consciuosness and good will shown by my unit became apparent as more Stanford doctors and nurses volunteered.  From wellwishes on facebook, to emails and calls, it has made a diffiult journey much easier. Stanford donated 20 thousand dollars of medications, residents and pharmasists and hospital staff from every sector packed materials and we were ready to go almost immediately. In fact,  I don’t know of few people who would not have gone. Unfortunatley even a small team like ours has been struggling to get there, provide needed medical care.

Though vie de creole, a hotel in Haiti, has served as a make shift hospital since the incident, there is no secure space to place a team, support structure to harness our skills, and no gauranteed transport into the country.  Our possible wed/Thursday departure became Friday. We did make it to Santa Domingo and waited for the call to piggy back on a military transport to port au prince.

In the mean time I used my Spanish to cope with the lighting fast domincan accent to purchase more supplies.  Casting materials, cotton rolls, a bone saw for amputation, pedialyte, antibiotics, suture material, antiseptic for reusing our disposable tools,
needles, syringes, and the elusive pain meds.  Surely there is a lot of pain there but ketamine and morphine are difficult to get a hold of locally (we did bring some).

The call came for us to leave.  As I got packed we learned that only 7 of our 8 could go.  Having spent a year alone in India I volunteered to stay back and go at the next opportunity.  As much as I wanted to see the city of Santa Domingo or at least a cafe that sold good arroz con frijoles I quickly fell asleep.  That didn’t last long, my team was turned back, so they called.  I started texting them from the room, they thought they still might make it, then they were returning to get everything and take me for a later hour.  I’m waiting for them now.  I’ve flown with the marines before in Afghanistan and they are organiezed and efficient but it’s sometime a function of tight space available.

I’m more aprehesive of this trip than Afghanistan.  There I was alway protected by the hope that our soldiers would not get hurt, here the bodies are already stAcked in the street.  Though danger was unpredictable in Afghanistan for a doctor there was also a relief in working with trained soldiers.  Dr Norris is a tough guy but we are banking on our benign nature and good intent to serve as a stron shield from the chaos.

This wouldn’t be possible without the outpouring of support from everyone.  I hope it continues to sustain us an I really wish we could maintain it beyond our memory of this diaster.

Anil S Menon

Sent from iPhone

Anil Menon, MD is a clinical instructor at Stanford School of Medicine focused on surgery and emergency medicine. His research interests are Aerospace Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Wilderness Medicine. He graduated from Stanford Med in 2006, received a degree in mechanical engineering in 2003 and became a full ER doctor in 2009. He has practiced medicin in combat in Afghanistan and will be practicing aerospace medicine next year at NASA. He’s part of a team sent to Haiti by Stanford.

This entire series is chronicled under the HaitiDrDispatch tag

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