Nurses departing from SFO for Philippines to help Typhoon Haiyan victims

AP Photo/Wally SantanaA woman and her child plead from the frantic crowd to be prioritized on an evacuation flight in Tacloban

A group of nurses from the Registered Nurse Response Network will be departing from San Francisco International Airport tonight for the Philippines to help provide relief to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Sacramento resident Marti Smith, a government relations lead at the California Nurses Association, will be part of the network's first group from the U.S. to go to the Philippines.

Smith did medical mission work in Mexico for 20 years, and has helped out in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year and the Haiti earthquake of 2010.

While she is familiar with environments plagued by disasters, she said, “You never know what you're going to find until you get there.”

The group will be meeting with members of its sister organization, Filipino Health Workers Association, in Manila and will then travel to the Visayas region of the country, Smith said.

“What we're hearing is that there are thousands more patients than nurses to care for them,” she said.

One of the issues that concern Smith is that many medical facilities have been destroyed or are without personnel, she said.

Smith said other issues that may arise include the spread of tropical diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

About 1,000 nurses from RNRN nationwide have volunteered to travel to the Philippines and provide their services, Smith said.

“On a larger standpoint as a nurse, we get our training to help people, and when we look at these kind of events, the opportunity to go and be a part of helping is amazing,” she said.

Any nurses interested in volunteering with RNRN may do so through their website at www.rnresponsenetwork.org.

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