UNC Hospitals' Hurricane Katrina Response Blog


As part of the response to Hurricane Katrina, a team of UNC Hospitals' physicians and staff left Friday, Sept. 2 to travel to the Gulf Coast as part of the MidCarolina Trauma RAC's State Medical Assistance Team II. The team from UNC Hospitals is comprised of: Christine Clark, RN; Randy Kearns; Preston "Chip" Rich, MD; Michele Rudisill, RN; Ed Wilson, RN; Ben Zarzaur, MD; and Janet Young, MD. A second team from UNC Hospitals left Sept. 9 to relieve the first group of volunteers. The second team to help staff the K-Mart Klinic in Waveland, Miss., is comprised of: Alberto Bonifacio, RN; Joe Manese, Radiology Tech; Peter Milano, 5th year surgical resident; Andrew Millager, Pharmacist; Jim Rawlings, Pastoral Care; Tina Schade-Willis, MD; Renae Stafford, Trauma Attending Surgeon; Jim Starlin, Air Care Communications; and Wes Wallace, MD., attending, emergency medicine.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The New Kids on the Block

We're the new kids on the block, the new group that just arrived from UNC this morning at 2:20 a.m. It's a long car/bus ride from Chapel Hill via Charlotte Atlanta, Montgomery and Mobile. Most of us began driving about 6:30 a.m. yesterday, joining with other teams from around the state in Charlotte.

In Charlotte, we registered and received a briefing on what to expect on site. (Clearly we were in debt to the folks who put Camp Katrina in order. Big progress. Lots of round the clock work.) There was a brief talk from the Critical Incident Stress Management folks. This has the potential to move us in unpleasant ways. It has the potential to bring out our best natures as well.

Somewhere around 11:30 a.m., we crammed about 100 folks and a small warehouse of gear into two vans and two buses, nicknamed "with oil" and "with mustard" for their roomy accommodations. Charlotte filled the rear view mirror.

Given the pace with which we moved, we were on target to hit Atlanta at rush our. Charles, our bus driver, was the man with a plan. He made couple of phone calls and the Georgia HP, lights rotating, took positions behind us and in front of us. We had ourselves a convoy. Somewhere south of Atlanta we stopped by for some health food at MacDonald's. This engendered a brief period of panic from the employees who transiently confused 100 folks wearing SMAT caps with 100 folks wearing SWAT caps.

Some VCR tapes that Charles brought filled the evening. Between movies, riders with too much time to think of what they should have brought, coalesed. Someone produced a lap top with a wireless card found the nearest Walmart. Two buses and two vans found their way to the Mobile, Alabama Walmart parking lot. What are all those other folks doing here at 11:30 p.m.?

Kamp K-Mart functions 24 hours a day. As we dragged our supplies wearily from the bus, we were descended upon by eager UNC colleages who gave us a tour of this amazing place. They were tired but wired, filled with incredible stories about this place. I flopped on a cot just outside the main hospital truck. My first night shift was already in progress.