Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
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“The work environment was high-demand and exhausting on a physical, mental, and emotional level.”That’s how Flight Nurse Rich Stephens characterizes his National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Trauma and Critical Care Team (TCCT) deployment in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. “But the personal satisfaction of being able to help is very rewarding and the main reason I deploy with the team,” he adds.Of his seven deployments to date, the Haiti earthquake deployment, where he was assigned as the landing zone officer, is a standout to him among his TCCT experiences. “My job was to facilitate all the transfers out of our field hospital for patients that either needed a higher level of care or long-term care that we couldn’t provide.” Among other duties, Rich would transport the patients to the helicopter landing zone. “If the patient was in critical condition, a respiratory therapist or paramedic and I would accompany them on the aircraft and provide care until we arrived at the final destination.” He also transported patients to the airport for fixed-wing transport to the United States.More recently, Rich deployed to help fight COVID-19. In the early days of the outbreak, he deployed to help safely repatriate and quarantine Americans from the Diamond Princess cruise ship anchored in Japan and, since then, has deployed for TCCT pandemic operations in Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana and Montana.Rich, an avid runner who lives in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife and three children, describes every deployment as being different. “My role, responsibilities, and duties can vary greatly based on the mission needs, but as a critical-care nurse, my primary focus is providing nursing care to injured and critically ill patients.”“Like most people, I want to help when others are impacted by tragic events,” Rich states. “Joining NDMS, specifically the Trauma and Critical Care Team, provides me the opportunity to be part of a high-caliber mobile healthcare team able to provide help to those who need it during a time of crisis.”Like all true heroes, NDMS team members respond when they are needed most, offering skills and compassion to people and communities in need. When disaster strikes, NDMS heroes like Rich step up to help.
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