Team returns home after helping typhoon victims overseas - KPTV - FOX 12

Team returns home after helping typhoon victims in the Philippines

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A team of local doctors, nurses and first responders who answered the call for help when a powerful typhoon hit the Philippines has returned home to Oregon.

Nearly 6,000 people have died since Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on Nov. 8, according to figures released this week. Hundreds of people are still missing.

The three volunteers FOX 12 spoke with on Wednesday night all spent about three weeks in some of the hardest-hit areas. They were part of one of the six teams that traveled to the Philippines through an organization called Medical Teams International, which is based out of Portland.

"It was everything flattened, brown, all the roofs gone, just devastation," said Dr. Don Lagrone, one of the volunteers.

"Very sobering," said Dr. Shandra Greig, another one of the volunteers.

When the team arrived in the Philippines in mid-November, two weeks had passed since the typhoon hit the island nation. The volunteers immediately went to work.

During the trip, the volunteers treated upwards of 200 patients a day for things like severe lacerations, broken bones, fever and pneumonia. Access to basic medical care in many areas had essentially been wiped out because the damage from Typhoon Haiyan was so severe, the volunteers said.

"It feels a bit emotional at times because you know these people have gone through a traumatic experience," said Greig. 

"Their primary interest was moving on and getting their lives back together," said Lagrone. "They were extremely resilient, upbeat and thankful."

Seeing that up close was personal for Rich Stamps, a paramedic with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. He was born in the Philippines and couldn't help but worry about loved ones who were directly impacted by the typhoon, he said.

"My perception of like how a lot of the world, lives was shattered," said Stamps.

His team had no access to electricity and no running water for days. 

But Lagrone, Greig and Stamps said their experience in the Philippines made them appreciate everything they have back here at home.

"You go to a place like we did. And you work under a tarp with a table and two chairs," said Lagrone. "You have very, very limited resources, but you realize that you can do a lot with a little."

Stamps said it changed his perspective on what's important.

We all get knocked down at some point in our lives, he said. But it's how you stand up that matters.

"The way they're standing up compared to what I've seen with other disasters and even in my own life is remarkable," Stamps said. 

Medical Teams International has sent 30 volunteers to the Philippines since the typhoon hit. They've treated more than 14,000 patients so far. 

Stamps said all of his family members in the Philippines are OK.

Click on the related link for more information about Medical Teams International.

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