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Revista médica de Chile

versión impresa ISSN 0034-9887


O'RYAN G, MIGUEL. Reflections and feelings from a team of volunteers from the Ministry of Health and the Chilean Medical Association, after the recent earthquake. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2010, vol.138, n.3, pp.270-273. ISSN 0034-9887.

The experience of a group of 9 doctors and 6 nurses, most of them younger than 30years of age, whom were part of the several volunteer groups directed towards the most damaged earthquake regions, is described. The team had to overcome a number of intense personal emotions related with the magnitude of the destruction, especially in the "adobe"-constructed houses and villages, in order to provide useful medical support. Moving out of the hospital setting, reaching out to the community in schools and emergency posts proved to be important in rural communities. An appropriate coordination of the volunteer groups, with the simultaneous action of municipal and state health authorities, together with well-guided leadership, was critical for an effective response in the larger city of Talcahuano /Hualpén. Within the second week of the aftermath, acute respiratory and intestinal infections were the most common medical complaints together with intense -in many cases severe- emotional distress associated mostly with fear to after shakes ("replicas"), tsunami, and social unrest. The severe earthquake that struck Chile has left many lessons for the future that will need to be analyzed seriously and with the conviction that effective and timely prevention of catastrophic aftermath consequences, although costly, must be a key element of the country's development plan. More importantly, the hundreds if not thousands of volunteers from a variety of health related professions that were moved by the scenes of suffering, and whom responded to individual or group initiatives, allow to foresee that the nation has the moral stamina required to overcome the tragedy and become a better society.

Palabras clave : Chile; Disasters; Earthquakes; Students, health occupations; Volunteers.

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