Jenny MacDonell knows all about helping the wounded and sick. She’s made a career out of it.
So when the opportunity arose to go to Nepal as part of an earthquake relief team, the registered nurse from Courtenay did not give it a second thought.
“I have always wanted to do something like this, using my skills and abilities in the far reaches of the world,” she said.
MacDonell will be a member of the second Canadian Medical Assistance Teams crew to head to the devastated country, to help out in any way she can.
“The first team that went was 16 people; paramedics, RNs, practitioners, doctors,” she said. “This second team that is going will relieve that first team and there is a higher volume of RNs this time around. There are three doctors and a mental health counsellor.”
MacDonell is also certified for operating room duties, but she expects most of her assignments will be on the spot, as opposed to a formal OR.
“Most of the experience will be primary care – I’m expecting a lot of fractures, blunt force injuries, and of course at this stage there will be a lot of gastro-intestinal issues from the lack of accessibility to clean water.”
MacDonell will have some familiar company on the trip. Jan Neuspiel, an Island Alpine guide from Cumberland who has spent a lot of time in Nepal (he speaks fluent Nepali) is also a member of the CMAT crew that leaves for Nepal on Friday.
Another Comox Valley resident, paramedic Jason Stevens, will finish his tour of duty this week. He went to Nepal May 1, with the first CMAT crew.
MacDonell said he was her inspiration to sign up for the team.
“He definitely inspired me,” said MacDonell. “So when the opportunity came up, I went for it, and they chose me. I’m honoured to be going. The response from across Canada from other medical professionals has been overwhelming to the organization.”
Things took a turn for the worse in Nepal this week, as another strong earthquake (7.3 magnitude) hit the country on Wednesday. Though not as powerful as the 7.8-magnitude quake on April 25, it has further hampered recovery operations.
MacDonell said news of the second quake has not wavered her decision to go.
“Jason texted me (Wednesday) morning and said that everything was alright, and all my flight details were sent to me this morning from CMAT so there has been no changes.
“And having Jan with us is another reason why I am quite confident about our safety. He will be assisting us getting to villages that have been cut off.”
MacDonell will be in Nepal for two weeks.
She has set up a crowdfunding page at bit.ly/1E4ehvZ for anyone interested in helping her and her CMAT team with the expenses associated with the trip.