16 September 2008

Dateline: Galveston

Two different worlds-
My company is housing us in the Hyatt Hotel on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.
I am literally on the ramp to the Emergency Room in Galveston as I type this post, using a new Dell computer placed here by the U.S. ARMY, one of six on a table right outside the ER door. There are also eight telephones that anyone can use... unlimited long-distance to anywhere in the U.S.

The ARMY team is working on the hospital radios to give them the ability to talk with incoming ambulances. What a transition... to go from the rich appointments of the Hyatt, to peeing in a port-a-potty here at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, because the toilets in the hospital don't yet work properly.

Yesterday I flew several federal V.I.P.'s around Galveston Island, to include Dr. Julie Gerberding, administrator of the Center for Disease Control. It was neat meeting her...
another of those folks you've seen enough on TV that you know them and feel you should be able to walk up and say hello.
Today I'm on standby to fly more federal officials to survey the area. I have no word on who might be coming, but I sit prepared to do what is necessary. President Bush flew by in Marine 1 earlier, and there was a rumor goin' around he might show up here in person.

Yesterday I carried my first patient out of here.
When you think of the boneheads that failed to protect themselves by not evacuating, don't be too quick to judge.
Lemme tell you his story.

A 37 year old man, he had just bought the nicest car he had ever owned. With some pride he drove it to Galveston to pick up his 68 year old Mother and take her to higher ground.
She was having none of it. She had been through storms before, and she wasn't leaving her home to get caught in a traffic jam, only to have her house looted before she could return. So he shrugged his shoulders and made the decision to stay and protect her.

By the time the eye of the hurricane rolled over Galveston, they both realized what a mistake they had made. There was 3 feet of water in the living room, and the house had been partially floated/moved off its foundation. Our patient took advantage of the eye's lull and used the extension cord from the vacuum to lash he and his Mother so they couldn't be washed apart in the coming "second act". When the eye passed and the winds started again, the house fell apart around them. They took refuge in the strongest part of the house, the front porch. They spent the rest of the storm there... battered by rain and the surge of water for several hours, wondering if they would survive the night.

This man had had three minor heart attacks before, and this hospital is unable to do more than first aid right now. He had to be transported.
We flew him to Houston Executive airport, took him off the helicopter and loaded him aboard a Fixed Wing Ambulance, and he was on his way to Dallas for the care he needed.

Want human interest?
This man lost his car, and IKE had also taken most of his clothing. On board the helicopter we had T-Shirts with our company logo and we gave him one... the start of his totally new wardrobe.

Flying around Galveston, it's interesting to see what has been damaged and what hasn't. New construction obviously fared better than old, and homes closer to the water are all damaged in some way. New construction methods really ARE working.

To those who have commented below... DM, and Nec... thank you.
And TWD... thanks for your comments too. We'll cut the young man some slack...
I gotta think he really is worth a dialogue.

More later folks, and I have much to share with you.


Flamingo 91 said...

Take care Pitchpull. You're doing a wonderful service and I look forward to reading your posts. ML (Flamingo91)

cj said...

Thanks for the unique insight into this tragedy, Greybeard, and fly safe, okay? I don't want to lose you after just finding this place.