“Seeing large steel and cement structures completely demolished was just astonishing to me,” said Brandon Bond, administrative director of the Office of Emergency Management for Stanford Hospital and Clinics. “But you saw resiliency in the people.”
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, about 14 million people, or about 14.5% of the country's population, were affected by the storm. The most recent count of deaths, as reported by the government in late November, was more than 6,000, with another nearly 28,000 people injured.
Gabiola, Bond and eight other volunteers from the Stanford Emergency Medicine Program for Emergency Response (SEMPER) deployed to the Philippines on Nov. 22.
It isn't the first time Stanford has assembled a relief team following an international disaster. In 2010, SEMPER sent four emergency physicians and four nurses to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, five days after a devastating earthquake. “We sent different rotating groups every two weeks to a hospital there for about three months,” said Dr. Colin Bucks, associate director of SEMPER. “Afterward, we said, 'Hey, this is actually something we can do well. Let's start training folks and equipping them to go.' ”
Hauling an average of 160 pounds of equipment and pharmaceuticals per person, the most recent team of four doctors, three nurses, one nurse practitioner, a clinical social worker and an emergency medical technician arrived in Cebu City and then traveled to more remote and harder-hit areas to focus on primary-care services. Six went to an area 45 minutes south of Tacloban, while four went to the coastal town of Guiuan.
Bucks, a clinical assistant professor of surgery and an emergency physician, led the four-person team to Guiuan. “It was just wiped out,” Bucks said. “It probably took us four days to get in.”