Hospital volunteers share stories from Typhoon Haiyan relief

A team of Bay Area doctors and nurses has returned from the Philippines after delivering much needed emergency care to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
January 2, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A team of Bay Area doctors and nurses has returned from the Philippines after delivering much needed emergency care to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

For nurse Joselinda Landon, RN, arriving in the typhoon shattered area was an emotional homecoming. Unable to reach her family, she landed in the Philippines with other volunteers from Stanford not knowing what to expect.

"I know my sister, their house is gone. The children are fine, but there's just minor injuries. There was no food," she remembers.

Landon was part of an emergency response team known by the acronym "SEMPER." It's made up of volunteers from Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, including EMT Brandon Bond, and mental health specialist Kim Woolley. The team leader is Colin Bucks, MD. They would go to work within hours of landing, treating patients in crowded, temporary clinics.

"It's a matter of getting the supplies, getting the people directed to the right areas," says Bucks.

The 10 member team saw several hundred patients a day, taking just brief breaks to eat, sleep, and record some of the images of communities struggling to recover together.

"There were probably 400 people waiting, and we were very much overwhelmed by the need," remembers Woolley.

The team brought much needed medicine and other medical supplies from the Bay Area. But they say from the suffering emerged an amazing story of resilience, especially among the throngs of children waiting with their families at the clinic.

"There's some video footage of some kids flying a kite," Bond remembers. "This was right outside the clinic. And here are these three little boys with a very homemade- fashioned kite, running down the street in between the cars, and just loving life."

The acronym "SEMPER" is short for the Stanford Emergency Medicine Program for Emergency Response. The group's website has more on its mission and history of disaster relief.

Written and produced by Tim Didion