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Paramedic lends a hand; Sherman goes to Haiti.

Byline: Sandy Meindersma

RUTLAND - Rutland paramedic Douglas Sherman is back home after a 12-day medical relief trip to Haiti as part of the Massachusetts-2 Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

It was an intense trip.

"The city is in ruins," said Mr. Sherman. "The soil where our tents were is contaminated, the smell is terrible, there's trash everywhere, and there's an open sewer that runs along the side of the street where people throw trash and human waste."

Although he was offered a tent, Mr. Sherman chose to sleep outside. "It was cooler, although we got rained on a couple of times, now that it's the beginning of the rainy season."

He also experienced an earthquake while he was there.

"There were two earthquakes that measured 4.7 on the Richter scale, and two aftershocks," he said. "I'd never felt the earth move before - it's pretty scary."

Stationed in Port-au-Prince, Mr. Sherman and his team provided medical care to Haitians in a tent on the grounds of the Gheskio Medical School.

"We did a lot of follow-up care from surgeries," Mr. Sherman said. "We also saw some primary care patients.

"There was one baby who came in and was at death's door, but is doing fine, and there was one kid, who had a seizure right in front of us, and we were able to help him - he actually walked out of the clinic on his own."

Mr. Sherman said he worked doing triage, and that during his stay, the group was transitioning from being a government-sponsored clinic to a nongovernmental one.

"Before I arrived, it was a 24-hour clinic, then it was scaled back to 12 hours, then eight and then six," he said. "We saw about 170 patients the first day, but it was down around 100 by the time I left.

"When the earthquake hit, all the doctors left the hospitals to take care of their own families, and now they're back into their practices. They're now trying to get the people to see their own doctors, since that's how they make their living."

Mr. Sherman said he also visited the Hotel Montana site, where Rutland resident Britney Gengel died.

"It's just a pile of bricks now," he said. "It was a five- or six-story building, and now it's just a pile of bricks."

Mr. Sherman called the trip rewarding, noting that it was his first deployment with DMAT.

"We were the backup unit on call for February, and I let them know that I was available," he said. "I got the call on a Wednesday, and I left on Friday. It was the first time we'd ever been deployed internationally."

ART: PHOTO

PHOTOG: SUBMITTED PHOTO

CUTLINE: Rutland paramedic Douglas Sherman listens to a patient at a clinic in Haiti.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 4, 2010
Words:461
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