Below is another post from Leslee's blog (she is another nurse here on campus, lesleesell.wordpress.com)
"There are some days that are just ingrained in my memory. I’ve had a couple such days during my stay in Haiti. Several have involved malnourished babies, one involved an evening of staying up too late watching Gilmore Girls and then crowding three women into one double bed. And one happened last night.
One of the things I’ve gotten used to in Haiti are the evening storms. It doesn’t rain every night, but probably at least once a week as the sun starts to set between 5:30 and 6 the rain clouds come in and the rain pours down. Yesterday afternoon as we walked back in from the village, the clouds started moving in. I love looking at the Haitian sky towards sunset, it is breathtaking. Right on cue it started raining right before we sat down for dinner. And this was a particularly heavy thunderstorm.
I’ve never been afraid of thunderstorms. In fact, I’ve always loved them. But I will admit, the thunder in Haiti is unlike any thunder I’ve ever heard before. And after last night I have a new perspective on thunderstorms. In the middle of eating dinner, there was a bright flash and then a sound that was louder than anything I’ve ever heard. I thought a bomb had been dropped on the dining room but once I came to my senses I realized that it had been thunder. A couple of the men ran out to make sure that everything was ok and came back shortly after to report all was well.
After finishing dinner and making a quick trip to the bathroom, I came back and was surprised to find that all the other nurses and most of the Haitians had left. I asked Aaron where everyone was and he said that apparently someone was hurt but he didn’t know what was really going on. I ran outside just as some of the Haitians were running in to say “Aaron, we need a truck NOW”. Those are never good words to hear. I booked it out past the fence and ran into E’Tienne running towards me. I asked her what was going on and she pointed out towards the side gate and said someone was hurt. I ran through deep puddles for what felt like an enormous distance and as I came closer my worst fears were realized when I saw Aubree, Adam, and Kacie performing CPR.
Someone had been struck by the lightning.
One in a million odds came true. Aubree yelled at me to go get the emergency gear and I immediately turned back around to run back to the storeroom. My flip flops went flying and I found myself barefoot running as fast as I could over rocky terrain. I grabbed E’Tienne and told her to get our epinephrine out of the clinic and then halted as I stared at two large bags of emergency equipment with oxygen tanks and a backboard I knew we needed. I grabbed everything and prayed that I would have the strength to get it all back where it was desperately needed. Thankfully I saw Shelli at that point and yelled at her to carry the back board and that we were doing CPR on someone. Thank God for adrenaline because there is no way I ordinarily would have been able to carry all that I did while sprinting barefoot.
As I arrived back on scene a truck was just driving up and they were still doing CPR. The man who was struck was named Jocelyn, and he is one of our guards. We got him loaded onto the backboard and placed in the back of the truck. I swear ten people tried to climb in as well but we quickly narrowed it down to our medical team: Aubree, Adam, Brooke, E’tienne, Kacie, and I as well as one Haitian.
The next forty-five minutes are like a nightmare that I think about and just shudder. I am so thankful for the people I was with as it could have been an even worse nightmare. We took turns doing CPR and mouth to mouth as we flew over bumpy roads in an absolute downpour. I will never forget the smell of burnt flesh as I would take my place beside Jocelyn and place my hands on his chest and pump, pump, pump as my team tried to hold me in place so I didn’t fly out of the truck. 45 minutes. I knew it was futile, but I had to hope. I had to pray that somehow Jocelyn could come back. And above all, I knew that in order for me to go on I had to do EVERYTHING that I could to save him. All throughout today things just keep flashing to my mind. The taste of Jocelyn as I gave him mouth to mouth. The shouted prayers and encouragement – “JUST KEEP GOING, YOU CAN DO IT, YOU’RE DOING GREAT”. The looks on the faces of Haitians as they saw a truck flying down the flooding streets with the back filled with soaking wet white people administering CPR. And I will never forget how as we got closer and closer to the hospital and exhaustion crept in we resorted to singing “staying alive, staying alive” (the ACLS song) to keep up the beat of our compressions. Towards the end we stopped doing mouth to mouth and just left the oxygen in place as he was started to bleed out of his nose, which meant we did constant compressions.
As we finally pulled up the gate of the hospital we screamed at them to let us in, NOW. We pulled right up to the ER doors, and Jocelyn’s friends and coworkers jumped out of the truck, grabbed the backboard with Jocelyn and RAN for the ER doors.
I’ve never been to a hospital in Haiti before and it was an eye opening experience. We pushed our way in and were met by an American nurse with a piece of tape on his shirt that said, Brian RN. I told him what had happened and what we had done and they quickly pointed to a bed. At that point I expected the hospital staff to take over. But I look up and see Adam alone still doing compressions and Kacie climbing onto the bed to take over. I glanced around the tiny ER and see many sick people and few staff. The bed next to Jocelyn’s holds a patient with what looks like a stab wound to the chest. I overhear an American doctor say, “So the lab is closed for the night? Can I get a chest x-ray at least now?” and then the reply that when the rain slows down, yes. Wow. I move up beside Joselyn and ask for some IV start supplies as Brian, RN asks for some epinephrine and the defibrillator. He looks at me and asks, should we shock him? I said no, he’s soaking wet, we’re soaking wet, and he’s been pulseless for 45 minutes at least. As a team we all decide to continue CPR and do a round of epinephrine. Kacie started the IV and pushed the drug as we all stood hoping that somehow a miracle would happen and we would get Jocelyn back.
The doctor called time of death a few minutes later. I stood there for a second, dripping water all over the floor, my bare feet slipping in the puddles we created when we came in, trying to wrap my mind around the last hour. I went from eating a delicious dinner to kneeling in the back of a truck doing chest compressions in the middle of a Haitian downpour. I feel numb. I carefully walk towards the ER doors, fighting back tears and go outside to see Aubree talking to the Haitians that had come with us and hugging them.
Pastor Pierre arrived a short time later and immediately started the process of getting Joselyn’s family there and the death report filled out to have the body released. I found myself with no sense of purpose and no idea what to do. I finally made it back to Jocelyn’s side to help E’Tienne cover him with a sheet and wait for a gurney and body bag. The ER needed the bed for other critical patients coming in and so we ended up wheeling Jocelyn’s body outside and around a corner under an overhang to keep his body as dry as possible. Adam cleaned up his face and then we all settled in outside to await the arrival of Jocelyn’s family and Aaron.
We were really blessed by the staff at Bernard Mevs hospital, I could see the compassion and sorrow on their faces as they found out how far we had come to try to help Jocelyn. They showed a great deal of concern for us as we all stood outside barefoot, completely soaked and shivering. One worker even found some scrub pants for us to change into. I was reminded of the odds we all fight against in Haiti. It seems sometimes that nothing is easy, nothing is simple. There were critically ill patients all around and I could tell by a glance the hospital was understaffed and lacking in resources. It looked nothing like any ER or ICU I’ve ever seen. But we fight. We fight for Haiti.
As I watched Jocelyn’s family say goodbye to him, I was so thankful that even though we knew that there was probably nothing that would save him, we still did everything. The aches and pains I feel today are worth it. Jocelyn was worth it.
In the midst of this tragedy I thank God for carrying us through it. I thank Him for His love that endures all. I thank him for the people He has placed around me here. And I thank Him for today as I’m reminded of how precious life is."
Last night was a night that changed each of our lives here on campus. Thank you again for your prayers as each of us continue to process. I feel completely blessed to be a part of an amazing medical team at NVM.