electricland: (Blue)
Sent Blue out for his last trip of the evening to the back yard just after 11 last night. He puttered around, came back, then shot out again; we heard some clanging and swearing (no lights back there yet) and then he shot back in making funny noises. Jen said "What's in his mouth?" He'd taken refuge under her desk, so I went to look, and immediately realized he'd been hit by a skunk at point-blank range. He was foaming at the mouth and sitting hunched over and miserable and the smell was indescribable.

Naturally I failed to grab him in time and he took off upstairs, pausing to drip skunk-laden drool on every rug. I left him be for a bit and called the vet emergency clinic (who said "It's not toxic to them, it's just an irritant -- try to flush out his mouth with water"). Jen meanwhile called her parents, who Googled. The top home remedy, peroxide and baking soda and dish detergent, seemed a little toxic for use on an animal, and in any case we didn't have any peroxide. Second choice, for animals' faces, was over-the-counter vaginal douche (who knew?) but we didn't have any of that either. So we wrestled him into the bath (after a brief and unsuccessful interlude with the kitchen sink) and did our best to flush his mouth using a turkey baster and lots of water (never have I so wished for a flexible showerhead).

Eventually we had to stop because he was looking so miserable it seemed cruel to go on. John arrived to help with a bit of cleaning and collect Jen and Tilde, whose bedroom is right next to Ground Zero and who therefore needed somewhere else to sleep. I mopped my floors and bagged all potentially contaminated clothes and towels and turned on all the extractor fans in the house and then, as it was by this time getting on for 1 a.m., decided to go to sleep and deal with the rest in the morning. It seemed like a good use of a personal day.

In the morning the smell didn't seem too bad, but the trouble is you become habituated to the stuff quite quickly in self-defence. I leaned over and discovered Blue sleeping by the foot of my bed, and when I got close to him he still smelled vile, so OK, more work needed. I took him for our usual walk and when I got back John and Helen and Jen and Tilde were preparing to come over for a massive cleaning blitz (Jen had realized as they drove away in the car that in no way had she and Tilde escaped the stench just by leaving the house).

Anyway, we cleaned the dog and the house and ourselves all morning, and I have done tons of laundry and showered and I bet I still smell of skunk without realizing it, but thank goodness for family. Himself has managed to wrench his back leg -- all that struggling out of bathtubs, I bet -- but it doesn't seem too bad; I'll watch it for a day or so before taking him to the vet.

So! How are you all?
electricland: (Default)
First-hand account from an extremely pissed-off doctor.


We discussed a plan to set up a triage station on the opposite site of the current one. Now our "hospital" had swelled to encompass both the East and Westbound lanes of Interstate 10. Helicopters still landing. About 3000-5000 people still in our location. I received word that the FEMA official said that they were pulling out. Until this point, FEMA was providing no medical assistance, but they were helping to obtain transportation for these people. The transportation was inadequate to say the least, and now they were pulling out? I approached the official and asked him whether it was true that they were pulling out and if so why. I was told that yes they were leaving, and he was unsure why. His comment was that the decision had been made by "people above my pay grade" as he shrugs his shoulders. Rumor was that shootings in New Orleans had spurred someone higher up in FEMA to pull back. This was ridiculous. We were 1.5 miles outside of New Orleans proper. At that time, we had no security problem. We did not have a security problem until later that day when transportation slowed almost to a standstill. No more FEMA, very little transportation. No coordination. It is Thursday -- 3 days post storm! There was no gunfire at our location. Only people in dire need of medical assistance and transportation. The lack of transportation for the people caused more of them to become medical patients. Dehydration and exhaustion. The FEMA official walked away leaving our crew, the local EMS crew from Austin City, and a mass of people -- patients lying on the Interstate in their own urine and feces. Supplies were still minimal -- oxygen, albuterol, IV fluids. I was rationing 2 bottles of nitroglycerin.
Absolutely appalling. Worth reading the whole thing, although you'll probably have to register (try Bugmenot).

Jim MacDonald is now my guru in this area. He published this a couple weeks ago, but if you haven't seen it, do read it, if only for the comparison.
electricland: (Lauren Bacall HA)
A few slightly offbeat ways to help that may not have come your way as yet:

[livejournal.com profile] matociquala is putting together a chapbook of SFF stories about the Gulf Coast, proceeds to Mercy Corps and Habitat for Humanity. Sign up if you want a copy or have a story to contribute.

Buy a hand-woven Turkish kilim rug for charity. Support traditional artisans and help Katrina victims at the same time!

And [livejournal.com profile] crankygrrl is making noises about writing porn for charity. Go encourage her.

LJ is chipping in some of the proceeds if you buy merchandise.

And there's more! [livejournal.com profile] kendokamel reports: "The Amateur Gourmet is having another Survivor-like contest. It's in its early stages (the scavenger hunt), and when the winners are chosen, they'll compete in a food blogging competition. People can vote for their favorites by donating to the hurricane relief fund that the AG has set up."

Also, you may not have seen this, but [livejournal.com profile] misia is putting some cool stuff on the block. I'm not sure whether it's all gone yet, but go check it out!

If I talk about the monumental fuck-ups I'll just go insane with rage. You can get a fine dose of rage over at Making Light (bonus: Jim Macdonald gives a primer on incident command, and for comic relief provides a list of Things I've Learned From British Folk Ballads), Respectful of Otters, and Body and Soul, though, if you're interested. Nice to know someone finally has his act together (thanks [livejournal.com profile] claris; that cheered me up). Oh, and a wee bit more comic relief from Effect Measure (if the Daily Show wasn't enough for you).

I also like the stories about decent ordinary people doing the right thing in a crisis. Here's the Star's Rosie diManno on the Astor Crowne Plaza (login required so I'm pasting the whole thing):

Read more... )

It was Ambros, calmly puffing on his cigar, who repeatedly refused to evacuate all these refugees, even when the New Orleans Police Department kept telling him to send them to the hideous Superdome or the just as wretched convention centre. Ambros sent out scouts to assess those venues and said, no way. "It's not safe. It's filthy. I won't turn them out," he steadfastly asserted.

Among his displaced, Ambros had senior citizens in wheelchairs, mothers with babies, a fellow with a pet iguana, families with dogs and cats, a heart attack victim, an AIDS sufferer on a feeding tube and one Toronto Star reporter who wheedled the last available room.

Somehow Ambros and his valiant, endlessly patient crew, clearly devoted to their boss, managed to keep all of us sheltered and fed through the worst of times, scores sleeping in the hotel's public areas when no more rooms were to be had, the kitchen staff — under the tireless leadership of Gatean "Frenchie" Croisier, the direct-from-France executive chef, and his wife Jocelyn — turning out macaroni, hamburgers, pork and beans. While breakfast was two rashers on white bread and dinner often no more than peanut butter and scavenged sweets, these angels of mercy managed to pull together one filling lunch meal every day.

A back-up generator provided charging for cellphones and emergency lighting. Irving Novack, director of engineering, would daily head out in a forklift truck in search of diesel fuel. Bruce Perone, the food and beverage manager, was aide-de-camp in charge of pretty much everything. Chief auditor Anna Mothershed deployed a legion of cleaners, disinfectant bottles in hand, to keep the premises at least minimally tidy. Dave Ovans, ordinarily in charge of convention services, hauled a giant fan into the dining room and rounded up flashlights. James Buckner, from the food and services department, filled samovars with drinking water. And a gang of locally drawn hands would each afternoon man the bucket brigade in the outdoor pool, filling canisters with water for flushing toilets.

"If we'd been in charge of the city, New Orleans wouldn't be in such a mess," observed Hector Garcia, the systems administrator who did yeoman work until finally pulling up stakes with his wife and two young children, bound for Houston on one of the 10 evacuation buses privately chartered by Ambros. Read more... )

Finally, from the Ontario Health Promotion E-mail list, a roundup of information sources:

long )


Sep. 8th, 2005 07:03 pm
electricland: (Default)
From an anonymous source, treat with due caution, but... heartbreaking account of continuing fuck-ups in the disaster zone. Via [livejournal.com profile] gristmill_rss.

As always, I wish there was more I could do for the disaster victims than donate to the Red Cross and obsessively read the newspapers.
electricland: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ozreison just posed an interesting question: are dead bodies, or are they not, sources of disease following a disaster?

Happily, the Pan American Journal of Public Health is there for us. O. Morgan of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine -- where, incidentally, my cousin Cynthia is going this fall to do a master's -- where was I? -- oh yes, O. Morgan wrote a review article on this very subject last year:

Infectious disease risks from dead bodies following natural disasters. [see comment]. [Review] [34 refs]

Read more... )

If you scroll down the page I linked to, you'll be able to read an editorial that comments on this study in full. Money quote:

The article’s systematic approach demystifies and rules out the risk of major catastrophic disease outbreaks as a consequence of decaying bodies remaining exposed after natural events or conflicts. The article also offers simple guidelines for those unfortunate workers having to deal in a safe but respectful manner with a large number of unidentifiable bodies. Too often the adoption of exotic precautions, such as masks and protective suits, accompanies a disregard for the basic hygiene and sanitation measures advocated in this article.

The article emphasizes that survivors are a more likely source of disease outbreak. This point is well taken, and it calls attention to an effective strategy of disaster response: a strategy focused on providing primary health care for the victims and their families. Active surveillance and rapid restoration of normal public health services, including the provision of safe water and food, should be the priority.
So, dead bodies per se are not a risk unless the people had an infectious disease of some kind. Of course, as [livejournal.com profile] crankygrrl mentioned, if diseases such as cholera are endemic in the area, it's entirely likely that the breakdown of services and the water flooding everywhere could lead to an outbreak.

Help the survivors by supporting the Red Cross or your favourite disaster-response organization. [livejournal.com profile] makinglight is keeping a great list of resources.


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