Washington Disaster Medical Assistance Team Is Taking Care Of Hurricane Harvey Victims

Sep 6, 2017

The catastrophic flooding brought by Hurricane Harvey upended many lives in Houston and surrounding areas and has left a lot of people in need emergency health care.

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from Washington state have traveled to Texas to help as part of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team that gets called up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during an emergency. They’re working in a field hospital set up outside Houston.

Dr. Stephen Morris, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is part of the team.

“We’re seeing a large number of wounds that have been infected because people have been walking in the water, so they’ve gotten wounds either from bumping into stuff or part of the recovery process,” he said. “There’s also a big concern about tetanus in those wounds, so we’ve been giving out tetanus shots.”

Morris said he has also seen many patients who have not had access to their medications for days, leaving them suffering from uncontrolled high blood pressure or blood sugar levels.

Morris has worked in other disaster zones, including Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He said the number of traumatic injuries was much greater then compared with Hurricane Harvey, but he said he’s witnessed widespread suffering in Texas.

“We are seeing a lot of significant distress related to destroyed houses and livelihoods,” he said.

Morris and the rest of the team are more than halfway through their two-week deployment in Texas.