Hurricane Sandy Deployment: Days -9 to 0

Standing in the temporary pharmacy here at South Nassau Communities Hospital, feeling like I have been transported out of time. The time warp hits when you get deployed.

South Nassau Communities Hospital (Oceanside, New York)

Many people don’t know that I am a member of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). In fact, I am one of only two pharmacists in the state of Hawaii on DMAT. I got lucky and caught wind of it because I like disaster medicine/relief/preparedness.

So, a bit about the deployment….. lessee if I can remember what day it is. Oh, Thursday. *****(after going back to proofread, I realized it was Friday…..I lost a day somewhere)******

I got the notice we might be deployed a week before we were activated, so I was able to buy some of the essentials that I should have gotten before (BDU khaki pants, tactical boots, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc). On Thursday (November 8th), we got put on Alert, which is only the first step. I finished packing, made sure my government travel card, passport, and bag were ready. I had to pack 2 weeks worth of gear and clothes in a pack and backpack. Think backpacking road trip.

Then, I waited.

My notification would come through my email, so all weekend I watched anxiously. We got an email that said that there was less than a 25% chance of being deployed. The next day (Sunday) we got Activated, which means we were certainly being deployed.

LESSON 1: Nothing is certain, and anything can change at a moment’s notice.

This all came at such an inopportune time: I have a new full-time job, a weekend gig, a court hearing on the 13th, and I needed to transfer my daughter to another school, but I deployed Monday, which was a federal holiday. Plus, I had to make sure my daughter got to school every day, ate, did her homework, etc.

LESSON 2: Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself.

I leaned on several people, and I was amazed at how many jumped in to help. An attorney friend of mine delivered the Motion for Continuance of my hearing 2 hours before it was to start. I still don’t know what is going to happen with that. One friend Lauren stayed with my daughter, then Amanda filled in for a few days, and used a letter I left giving her permission to act on my behalf to register her at a new school. Lauren was going to move to the mainland November 20th, but said she would stay until I got back.

LESSON 3: I truly do have amazing people in my life willing and able to help out.

We had a conference call at 7pm Sunday night to let us know how to prepare and to check our email first thing in the morning for our travel itinerary. I could have been leaving at 7am, but wouldn’t know that night. Thankfully, I wasn’t leaving until 13:30 Monday. My travel buddy, Ryan, got to the airport early and didn’t hear that our flight was delayed, and delayed, and delayed some more. They finally canceled the flight, but my trusty travel buddy was at the airport and was able to get us on a 5:30pm flight to Dallas, continuing into La Guardia. Yeah Ryan!

And there’s where our adventure began…..