UF team gets jump on helping victims

The group helped an injured woman who was flown to the Dominican Republic.

Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 11:46 p.m.

A team from the University of Florida was still waiting Tuesday to get into Haiti but already was helping victims of the earthquake.

The team made it to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and was expecting the U.S. military to escort it into Haiti early this morning. Michael Perri, dean of UF's College of Public Health and Health Professions, wrote about the group's experience online at www.haiti-earthquake-relief.com.

"While waiting, a rescue victim who had been trapped for six days was helicoptered here. Our team sprung into action and provided immediate assistance," he wrote. "The woman's leg had been amputated in a building collapse and she suffered severe electrical burns as well."

He wrote that the team's physicians and nurses cleaned and re-bandaged the woman's wounds, administered fluids and pain medication, and soothed the patient, who was transported to a hospital.

Back at UF, officials are working to coordinate additional relief efforts. Lynn Frazier, who retired in July from the UF International Center, has returned to the university to act as a point person. She said the current emphasis is getting needed medical personnel there.

"There has just been a tremendous outpouring of offers of help and assistance," she said.

Meanwhile, two UF graduate students who were in Haiti during the earthquake returned late Monday to Gainesville. Jon Bougher and Roman Safiullin were there shooting a documentary about an aid organization when the earthquake struck.

Bougher and Safiullin were separated at the Port-au-Prince airport, leading Bougher to get a flight back first. Safiullin returned Saturday.

The duo then flew to New York, appearing Sunday on NBC's "Today Show" and MSNBC to discuss their experiences. They appeared Monday on Fox News.

Safiullin said they're "still recovering" but plan to return to Haiti in the next few weeks to continue their filming. He said they're using the television appearances to get out the word that problems in Haiti, such as its lack of infrastructure, contributed to the quake's devastation.

"What happened in Haiti shouldn't have happened," Safiullin said.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

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