Oregon duo returns from medical mission in Florida, Puerto Rico

Posted at 5:21 PM, Nov 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-07 19:21:55-05

When disaster strikes, medical teams from around the country are trained to provide rapid response.

A pediatrician and respiratory therapist from Ontario have returned to Oregon, after helping provide medical care for thousands injured after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

At home, they're physicians and nurses, but during a disaster, they provide emergency medical care.

"We are trained for austere, very austere conditions of having no power, no place to sleep, no air conditioning, maybe no running water," said Debbie Anderson. "...and we're totally prepared for that."

Pediatrician Sandy Dunbrasky and respiratory therapist Debbie Anderson provided medical aid to folks affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Part of Oregon's Disaster Medical Assistance  Team (DMAT), the ladies were part of a team that spent one month helping in Naples, Florida, and San Germán, Puerto Rico. 

"The people who are living that disaster are amazing," Dr. Dunbrasky said. "...their ability to respond themselves...they worry about us, probably as much as we worry about them."

Set up in tents, Anderson and Dunbrasky, along with other DMAT units from across the U.S., provided care to nearly 11,000 people affected by the storms.

Together, Anderson and Dunbrasky have served a combined 22 years on DMAT, providing life-saving medical care in times of need. 

"We just, we love it," Anderson said. "We love to get out there...sleep on the floor...and help."

Members of disaster medical assistance teams attend trainings multiple times a year, often in partnership with the National Guard or local fire departments, to prepare for their missions.