With this blog I'm focussing on the earthquake itself and the role of NTR in the aftermath.
There was the earthquake on April 25th at 12.30pm and then the aftershocks started within minutes of the initial quake, and continued the whole time I was in Nepal. We were shaken, but we gathered ourselves up and got back to our hotel and I was glued to the Nepali Tv stations broadcasting images of the destruction in Kathmandu.
The damage was catastrophic. The images of Kathmandu were awful. The scale of what had happened sank in with awful clarity. And as soon as I saw the news images on loop of Kathmandu, I knew I was going to abandon the educational work I was doing with NTR and was going to join the relief effort in any capacity to help. I discussed my intentions with Lucy, as I think a few of the other girls did and soon we had created a rogue little Nurse Teach Reach disaster relief team.
And so we had a group of nurses, good intentions and a plan, to go to Kathmandu and work. However, we had little money, limited supplies and we were an 5 hour journey from the city and it wasn't exactly safe to travel.
Fortunately we had an internet connection so we were able to spread the word to our friends and family who contributed to our relief fund and who enabled us to get into the field with the necessary supplies and equipment. So as soon as we were able to arrange a car to take us back to Kathmandu, we went back with a jeep stuffed full of medical essentials.
On our first morning in Kathmandu we got up early and headed to the Tribhuvan University Teaching hospital. It is one of Kathmandu's largest Hospitals and trauma canter. As NTR already run educational programs in the Emergency Department, NTR Founder Lucy was easily able to obtain permission for us to work clinically in the hospital.
The amount of pepole needing medical attention had overwhelmed the hospitals capacity and the A&E had spilt out into three triaged wards and much of two car parks. I walked into a word outpatients eye clinic waiting room that had been overtaken by the yellow area. People with multiple, unset fractures and wounds, some of whom had been sat there for 3 days since the initial quake, were lying in beds or on the floor, with no analgesia, and little medical attention. There were only a few doctors and nurses, and several overseas medical volunteers.I didn't know where to start but Lucy took control of the situation and set us up, soon we were doing sets examinations, wound dressings, giving medications and escalating issues to the doctors.
Although we had bought some supplies with us, they soon were snapped up and the reality of what was needed and huge quantities became obvious. Thankfully we had been able to raise a significant amounts of money. So I would do runs to the cash points, withdrawing the daily maximum from each, and then run across the street to the pharmacy to buy supplies of principally medications, but also basic equipment, blood pressure sphygmomanometers and stethoscopes, and infection control equipment like gloves and hand sanitiser.
This was the beauty of what we were able to do in Kathmandu in our NTR disaster relief effort. We were able to do an initial needs assessment, go buy the needed equipment and deliver it to those who needed it, within hours. We were working as nurses, purchasing supplies and delivering them to those in need all while other international NGO’s were still stuck in other countries trying to fly in their personnel and supplies. Even days into the disaster other organisations were still performing needs assessments while we were stuck in.
And we were flexible and versatile, when the demand in the hospital stabilised and the reports of the devastation of the villages around the valley started to reach us, we focused our attention on purchasing supplies and creating first aid packs to distribute to these effect isolated communities, where help was not reaching.
We did great work and it is the most exceptional thing I've done, I’m incredibly proud to be part of Nurse Teach Reach. I know there is so much more to do though and NTR will continue to play its role in rebuilding Nepal through the work of its volunteers