Cardinal Glennon is hundreds of miles away from Lafayette, La., but when four members of the Transport Team received a call Sept. 4 to help victims of hurricane Gustav, they met the challenge without question.
Flight nurses Terry Cuellar and Dana Rolland, and respiratory therapists Sandra Bates and Carl Cook boarded an aircraft that night as part of a nationwide relief effort to help transport patients in the storm-affected communities.
“To put their families on hold like that was a really courageous thing to do,” said Karen Zahn, team leader for Transport Services at Cardinal Glennon. “Our employees got great experience in emergency management.”
While there, Rolland was paired with a paramedic from California and a pilot from Florida on an adult-equipped helicopter. Their mission was to pick up a 16-month old PICU patient and transport him from Shreveport to his home in Lake Charles.
“It’s not like working here, where you are in constant contact with Medical Control,” she said. “There, you had to make judgment calls in the air. The baby was very sensitive to the vent on the aircraft, and I didn’t have Carl (Cook) with me, so I ended up bagging him (manually pumping air to help him breathe) for more than an hour.”
The team stayed in a hotel crowded with evacuees and linemen, who were there to restore electricity. Hospitals were run on limited capacity, and the local Wal-Mart’s shelves were bare, Rolland said.
The nurses who traveled at a moment’s notice were not the only ones working overtime. Zahn said when Cardinal Glennon got the call at 2 p.m. Sept. 4, transport nurses already at work helped pack and organize equipment for the others’ trip. The team was able to leave by 9 p.m. the same night. Air Methods, national organizer for the transplant teams, said it was the fastest deployment by a neonatal team they had ever seen.
“This is a lot of work for the people who were stayed back in St. Louis, too,” Rolland said. “They were just as important in this situation. There was a lot of extra call taken so we could continue to function at full capacity here.”