Medical personnel provide assistance with little rest

Updated: 2013-04-24 02:11

By Huang Zhiling in Lushan, Sichuan and Hou Liqiang in Beijing (China Daily)

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Medical teams from Wenchuan county who headed to Lushan county soon after the earthquake hit have been working under harsh conditions while getting very little sleep.

As leader of the medical group, Shen Yongkang, a doctor at People's Hospital of Wenchuan County, started out for Lushan around 9:30 am on April 20, no more than one and a half hours after the magnitude-7 quake.

Medical personnel provide assistance with little restThe congested traffic made the journey take much longer than the usual five hours. Shen and his other five colleagues arrived after 7 pm at Longmen township, a seriously damaged area only 13.5 kilometers away from Lushan.

Worried the possibility of rain, they immediately set up a tent and started operating without any rest.

"Most patients I received after I came had been injured by falling objects. The possible rain will make the situation for them much worse, so I had to start my work immediately, and I slept for only two hours on the first day," Shen told China Daily.

Their arrival was a big relief to Wang Zejun, director of People's Hospital of Longmen Township.

Medical personnel provide assistance with little rest

Shen Yongkang, 34, a doctor at People's Hospital of Wenchuan County, Sichuan province, treats a patient injured in the earthquake in Lushan county. FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

"I was panicking when more than 300 injured villagers came for treatment after the quake," Wang said. "But the doctors' arrival eased my mind."

It's not Shen's first time to participate in medical relief after an earthquake.

Five years ago, after the Wenchuan earthquake, Shen was still a doctor in Songpan county of Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province.

Because of the landslide along the road, it took Shen four days to reach Wenchuan. And Shen worked there for half a month.

On Sunday afternoon, Shen received a phone call from his 5-year-old son, Shen Yichen.

"Dad, I miss you very much, and I hope you can come back home soon," the boy said.

It was the first call from Shen's family after he arrived because of the collapse of cell phone communications.

The situation in Longmen township makes it unclear when the medical teams can go home.

The treatment of injuries doesn't mean the end of work for Shen and his colleagues. Since Sunday, a lot of people have been coming to the hospital because of colds, coughs and skin problems.

"We didn't have a manufactured tent at first, so we put up a tent with polychrome cloth and slept on the ground. This makes it very easy to catch a chill and get skin itches. The lack of healthy drinking water and electricity makes the situation of the frightened people even worse," said Shen Binchang, a middle-aged villager.

Shen, the doctor, was joined by 11 other colleagues and two mobile clinic vehicles with X-ray and electrocardiogram machines on Monday.

"Before the mobile clinic came, we had to make diagnoses based only on our experience. The equipment makes our diagnoses more accurate, so many villagers got back in line again," Shen said.

Dong Ali, a 25-year-old nurse in the team who also participated in the relief efforts after the Wenchuan earthquake, caught a cold after she arrived. But Dong has continued to work nonstop.

"I was 20 years old and worked in People's Hospital of Wenchuan County when the Wenchuan earthquake happened. I witnessed how selfless people from other parts of the country are, especially my colleagues, to provide help to us. I can overcome the small difficulty I face," Dong said.

By now, medical teams from six hospitals have been working together in the tent put up in front of People's Hospital of Longmen Township and have offered medical treatment to 4,000 villagers.

However, Shen and his colleagues still face challenges. Medicine for diabetes and hypertension and antibiotics for children have been used up, while the narrow road to Longmen township, which is packed with heavy traffic, makes transportation a challenge.

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