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A Guernsey doctor's experiences in Haiti
Dr James Ray
Dr Ray spent nine days working in Haiti and hoped to return within a year

In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 the nation received millions of pounds worth of aid from all over the world.

As well as financial aid human aid was provided by thousands of volunteers including Dr James Ray from Guernsey.

Dr Ray said: "I trained in emergency medicine and it was a great opportunity to use my skills as best I could."

He spent nine days in the country working in a hospital and community clinic in Port Au Prince.

On his arrival at the hospital Dr Ray said they began work straight away: "We hit the floor running... it was absolute mayhem."

From there on he said days at the hospital began at 0600 when they would have a meeting and "then we got going and it was full on by about eight o'clock".

"It calmed down by six or seven in the evening," he explained. "But there was never a time you could say 'I'm completely off duty'."

Dr Ray described the hospital in which he worked as: "Not the sort of hospital where you've got everything stored away and in nice neat packages... it was literally piles and piles of medication, bandages and equipment."

He went on to explain how at night the hospital took on a "macabre" air thanks to the lack of lighting meaning any work was done by torch light.

Tent city in Haiti
Following the earthquake many people were forced to live in tent cities

As well as at the hospital Dr Ray worked as part of a team of 18 at a community clinic based out of the central police station.

He said amongst the team were several non-medical people who "were invaluable" as they helped the doctors by finding equipment and medicines while the doctors continued treating people.

Dr Ray said he treated between 90 and 100 people each day in the community clinic.

Working in conditions like those in Haiti was, of course, very different from working in a western hospital. Dr Ray explained that upon their arrival they were told to "forget western ideas, it's a very frustrating place to work" and that they should just do the best they could.

He said: "Quite a few people died on my shift that were, unfortunately, not preventable... in western medicine they would have survived."

Though the work had its lows it also had high points such as when Dr Ray delivered a baby girl, which he described as an emotional and wonderful experience.

Upon leaving Haiti he said: "You feel a bit of a traitor... I remember thinking 'I shouldn't really be leaving, there's still so much to do'... it's not a very satisfying feeling."

With this in mind Dr Ray hoped to return to Haiti within a year to provide more assistance to the continuing relief work.

He said: "My faith kept me going through it, and the incredible faith of the people there... despite the despair and loss they've suffered they stay as positive as they can."

Guernsey helps survivors in Haiti
04 Feb 10 |  Religion & Ethics


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