A Haitian woman is helped from the rubble of a damaged building on January 12, 2010 in Port-au-Prince after a huge earthquake measuring 7.0 rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti, toppling buildings and causing widespread damage and panic, officials and AFP witnesses said. A tsunami alert was immediately issued for the Caribbean region after the earthquake struck at 2153 GMT. AFP PHOTO / Lisandro SUERO == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE / NO SALES == (Photo credit should read LISANDRO SUERO/AFP/Getty Images)
As the world watches the tragedy in Haiti unfold, a handful of people from the Bay Area and across the state are answering the call for help. The California Nurses Association and Oakland’s National Nurses United are organizing relief efforts to get nurses on the ground in Haiti as soon as possible.
During a conference call Wednesday, joined by groups from Chicago and Washington, D.C., organizers told volunteers to get typhoid shots as well as malaria tablets before leaving and to expect harsh conditions once they get there.
“Even under the best of circumstances, Haiti doesn’t always have consistent electricity, clean, potable water, so we’re expecting a primitive camping environment,” said Deborah Burger of the California Nurses Association.
Volunteers say the situation is reminiscent of another tragedy in which the nurses groups helped out: Hurricane Katrina.
Following Katrina, more than 1,000 nurses signed up to help, but due to a lack of funds, only 300 could be sent to New Orleans.
So far, an estimated 300 Bay Area nurses have offered their time to help in the Haiti disaster. An online fundraising effort is already under way to support those nurses. Registered nurses can also visit the Web site to sign up to volunteer.
A Northern California Coast Guard crew is leaving Thursday to help in Haiti. The C130 and 17 crew members will head to Florida to pick up food, medical supplies and more ground crews before going to Haiti. Another plane left overnight Wednesday.
There's one highly-trained local team that's not going to Haiti. Menlo Park's Search and Rescue team will stay behind in case of a catastophe at home.
The push to recruit nurses is just one of many local efforts to help victims of Tuesday's quake: The Contra Costa Times has an excellent roundup of local relief efforts.