Thursday, June 01, 2006

Weekly Wrap-Up

Here's what I've been up to this week. I'm back in Jakarta for now, but I have plenty of material to post here - so stay tuned.

Sunday: Ancient Hindu Temple Damaged in Indonesian Earthquake

Saturday: nothing filed. All day in the field.

Friday: WHO on Watch for Disease Outbreaks After Central Java Earthquake (not yet posted)

And one spot for NPR.

Thursday: US Navy and Marines Help Treat Injured After Indonesian Quake

And one spot for NPR.

Wednesday: Rural Quake Victims Still Not Getting Aid in Indonesia

An interview with World Vision.

And one spot for NPR.

Tuesday: Relief Operations Swing into Gear in Quake-Stricken Central Java

An interview for the Here and Now show from WBUR in Boston

Monday: Indonesian Hospitals Struggle to Help Quake Victims

And one spot for NPR.

Saturday: Relief Efforts Under Way After Deadly Indonesian Quake

And one spot for NPR. (news spots are not archived)

Marine Docs

Today I went to a Marine field hospital, and ended up riding with them
as they looked for injured people in Klaten. We went from local
hospital to hospital looking for patients who needed surgeries. A
team of 7 highly trained combat surgeons rode in a convoy of 5 IOM
vehicles. No patients to be found. Everyone was baffled. The TNI,
Indonesian military, had called the Marine commander in the morning,
and said that there were 7000 seriously injured and 1500 likely
injured out there somewhere. No one seemed to know where they were.
"We need food," the first clinic manager said. "Not doctors." The
commander explained that they could leave antibiotics and rubber
gloves, but didn't have any food.

I ended up being a asset to the team, because they were short on
translators, and I was able to relay driving directions to our driver.
He was really grumpy. He didn't know why we were out in the middle
of traffic looking for wounded people. He wanted to go home. He
didn't want any of the military rations for lunch. I ate my Mexican
mac-and-cheese with my hands. He thought that was very funny.

We passed through a lot of villages which had been reduced to
construction waste. I thought about how much they looked like the
piles of building materials we used to haul off when I worked for a
construction company in North Carolina. Yeah, 30 seconds. It's
really hard to wreck a building by hand. We did that a few times to
make way for additions or start a repair. Hard work. Crow bar,
hammer, pull, haul, chuck. I just think of all the calories a crew of
10 people burn doing that kind of work. Mother Earth shudders for
less than a minute and ten thousand concrete houses just lay down.

Near the end of the day, Commander Carlos Godinez got a call from the
base camp. A patient he'd seen the day before was in very bad shape.
We arrived at the hospital as 25-year old Ctsiti Nuriyoni was wheeled
in on a gurney. She was heaving – at something like 32 breaths per
minute – and rolling her eyes. Godinez noticed yesterday that she'd
been laying on a sidewalk near a hospital for four days with a tube
coming out of her chest. Someone had put the tube in to help her
breathing, but the staff wasn't able to attend to her after it was put

A wall fell on her during the quake and crushed her ribs into
splinters like crackers in soup. Her husband arrived soon afterwards
and told us their newborn baby died in the earthquake. He hadn't told
her yet, because she'd been to ill and didn't want to make it worse.
I noticed a bag of pink fluid dangling from the gurney. Looked like a
bag of Nestlees' Strawberry Quick. I asked Godinez what it meant.
"Infection," he said. "That fluid was clear enough to read a
newspaper through yesterday. She needs a bigger tube put in - right

But they didn't have a bigger tube. So he called the mobile hospital,
which is in the middle of a soccer stadium in Bantul, and asked for a
tube. It took an hour to arrive.

He thinks she's going to be okay now. But Ctsiti's condition was
preventable. She's the kind of patient that's slipping through the
cracks everywhere. She lasted for four days without drawing
attention, and it almost killed her. A broken bone can be fatal after
four days. Now it's a few days after 200-thousand people were crushed
and evicted from shelter. News interest is dropping, but the
suffering is just about to put on a new mask.