UTMB is no stranger to disasters and the enormous difference that a helping hand can make in such difficult times. During the recent tri-county Texas wildfires that consumed more than 19,000 acres and dozens of homes and businesses in Montgomery, Waller and Grimes Counties UTMB nurses and police were there bringing medical aid and relief to the victims.
Paula Stangeland and Rebecca Watson Campbell, both registered nurses and assistant professors at the UTMB School of Nursing, alums of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and members of the American Red Cross Disaster Assessment Team and Disaster Health Response Service, were deployed by the American Red Cross to the Texas Wildfires in the Montgomery/Grimes/Waller tri-county area for ten days in September. While on assignment, they provided health services to several shelters across the tri-county area. They provided care ranging from basic first aid for minor injuries, including several animal bites, to continuous care for clients with diabetes.
"I am very proud to have been able to serve my community as a nurse and Red Cross volunteer," said Watson Campbell. "To know that we can have such a dramatic impact on our friends and neighbors by simply donating our time is immensely rewarding."
After the shelters were closed Strangeland and Campbell made home visits to open cases for clients who had lost their homes. Often, they were with the clients when they saw the destruction of their homes for the first time and assisted them in the process of rebuilding their lives by helping them access the resources available in their community.
UTMB Police Sergeants Michael Harris, Anthony Curry and Noel Layer and officer Daniel R. Bowen were deployed to the area in response to a request that UTMB received from David Popoff, the state emergency manager for Region II. They brought relief for the fatigued officers at the scene of the wildfires, working two 12-hour night shifts providing traffic control and check point staffing at the perimeter of the fire.
"Most of the officers that were working the area had been on duty for a week and were worn out, they needed some extra help," said Sgt. Layer. "We saw a lot of homes and businesses that were burned down. One of the reasons I volunteered to go help was because those people came down here and helped us during Ike. I know what it's like to be working 12-hour shifts, 7, 8, 9 days straight."
"I would go back in a second if they needed more help," said Sgt. Harris.