Homeward Bound

We left Puerto Rico at noon today–it was pouring rain and the streets were flooded–and flew back to Atlanta.  The plane was so heavy that it couldn’t take on a full load of fuel, so we had to stop in Florida to take on more fuel before continuing to Atlanta, GA.

In 26 days, I’ve had just two showers that were other than scalding hot or very cold and I laundered (hand wash in buckets and line dry) my three uniforms twice.

Comfortable shower, clean uniforms, shined boots, good food, soft bed.

I wish the folks in Puerto Rico had it this good.

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Meet Fred

Please don’t take this post as “we’re not doing anything”.  We have been working 7 days a week with two 12 to 14 hour shifts per day since two days after Maria hit the island.  Responders must have some rest time if they are to remain effective over the long term.  If a responder gets sick, it’s doubly bad…now there is one more person that needs aid and one fewer person to render aid.

Internet access is not reliable, we have no TV, broadcast radios have poor reception and we haven’t seen a newspaper since we got here.  Our only “news” is the official IAP (incident action plan), which sets out the goals for the time period, any safety issues that might arise, the plan for meeting that time period’s goals, and all sorts of other useful information.   It is not an entertainment newsletter.

I think the lack of “provided entertainments” is a good thing as it gives us chance to use our imagination….even if some don’t react well to this. 🙂

Anyway, while I was relaxing during my rest time, I noticed a spider sitting outside on the window ledge.  When I leaned down to get a better look, he turned around to face me, brought his “gloved hands” in front of his mouth and began moving them up and down–making him look like he had a huge mouth.

We named him Fred.

I couldn’t get a good picture of Fred, so I’m posting a picture of a Fred look-alike that I found on the internet.

Fred’s body is about 2cm (not quite an inch) in length, so he isn’t as scary as the picture would indicate.

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Whip Spider

Puerto Rico

I’m typing this on a smart phone, so it will be short.

I’m in Puerto Rico helping provide radio communications for medical teams working in the area.

Compared to people at home on the mainland, we (the responders) are probably less informed of the goings on in Puerto Rico.  We don’t have a television, nor do we get newspapers and internet access is very, VERY poor….

I do know, in great deal, the things going on in the building (a hospital) where I am working…but that’s it and that’s just a very tiny part of what is happening…….and I’ve been asked to not post any details of where I’m at.

We are busting our backs to get help, but there is so much to do in order to get the help there and then on to where it needs to go.

 

Evil Twin (ET) Scared Me.

Evil Twin.  That is what we call each other.  I’m the older brother, something I often remind her about and she reminds me that those few minutes don’t really count.

Last night ET called.  “Could you take me to the hospital?  My heart is beating like crazy and I’m dizzy.”  I wanted to call the paramedics, but she said no…to just come and take her to the hospital.

Her blood pressure was 198/140 and her pulse rate was 140.  They got the heart rate and blood pressure under control, started her on metoprolol and made an appointment with a cardiologist.

She’s stable now, but I don’t know who was more scared–me or “ET”.

 

Hang in There.

So far, the 8MC has been quiet and I’m still at home.

The federal medical team I’m on is normally on call in October, so for the Hurricane Harvey response in late August, people were pulled from the team to augment other teams’ rosters and that left us short handed.  I’m guessing “my” team’s  members will be engaged on an as needed basis to fill needs as they arise.  While I stand ready to help, I’ve been to enough disasters that I’m not quivering in frustration at not being there.

However, I must have some sort of very twisted, inappropriate and dark sense of gallows humor because over the past few days, anytime I’ve been watching the television coverage of Hurricane Irma, I think of the bomb run scene in the movie Dr. Strangelove.  To be clear, the dark humor is directed ONLY at the TV coverage.  In both the movie and with Irma; if only the bomb bay doors had stayed shut.

I have many co-workers and friends in the area that are sheltered in place very near the danger zone.  The medical and search teams flew in courtesy of the USAF, while the wireless technicians and engineers drove in with enough stuff to “Git Er Done”.

Right now, as a matter of professional interest and pride, I’m remotely watching the status of the company’s wireless network in Florida.  I can tell it’s being stressed by the storm.  Many things are running on 1st and even 2nd backups, and some cells are totally down, but overall….I guess if one wants to anthropomorphize the wireless network a bit…..it’s still determinedly extending both middle fingers up at Irma.

For everyone there or going there, stay safe.

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