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Fallon doctors gather supplies for emergency trip to Haiti

Stephanie Carroll
Nevada Appeal News Service
Randy Varain, far right) and Paul Melendrez ,far left return from a clinic in the field, traveling in 4x4 vehicle with their translators.
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FALLON – Randy Varain and Gene McColgin, founders of the local VM Foundation, are collecting supplies to make an emergency trip to Haiti to help the relief effort after Tuesday’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

“We will go as far as we can safely,” Varain said. “It’s sort of like marshal law down there. The government is going to tell you what you can and can’t do. A lot of the roads aren’t passable. We will definitely go where other missions aren’t.”

Varain is an emergency medical technician with Banner Churchill Community Hospital, and McColgin is an emergency room physician. They take yearly trips to Haiti’s rural areas to provide various medical services that are otherwise unattainable.

“We go to very remote areas where other missions don’t go,” Varain said. “Our team is better equipped than the hospitals in Haiti.”

Varain said their yearly trip was scheduled for Feb. 23.

Supplies were ready and 1,000 pounds of provisions were already stored in the country. However, since the earthquake, those essentials are gone, and the stores prepared for the February trip are not appropriate for emergency relief.

“That was gone in a day,” Varain said. “We had a lot of antibiotics and things. Luckily we had it there to be used.”

Varain is trying to travel to Haiti within the next two weeks or as soon as he finds a military flight and collects 2,000 pounds of supplies. The trip will cost approximately $25,000, and the VM Foundation is a small nonprofit that collected only $2,000 in donations last year.

Public relations coordinator Amiee Fulk said Banner Churchill is donating an unspecified amount of supplies based on a list Varain has provided. Varain said the hospital can supply items like sutures, lidocaine, antibiotics, skin staplers, etc.

Varain said the VM Foundation can use financial donations and supplies from the community like generic Tylenol, ibuprofen, antibiotics, baby fluid vitamins, portable water filtration systems and more.

Varain said Haiti will need emergency medical aid for at least six months to a year. He explained people currently need immediate attention to cuts, broken bones and other urgent injuries. Still, in the coming weeks and months, people will suffer from infections, diseases and new injuries from their attempts to clean and rebuild.

“This is going to go on for several months,” Varain said. “They have to clean up. All the people cleaning up are going to get injured. They don’t have any equipment.”

He said people are going to be living on the streets for a long time too and are going to get sick from poor sanitation and a lack of clean water. Additionally, Varain said outbreaks of hepatitis, typhoid, dehydration, sepsis and other serious infections and illnesses will occur.

“They had no foundation to begin with,” Varain said. “Now they’re all confined with less sanitation and with dead bodies rotting and dead animals rotting. The filth is just as damaging. You can get bubonic plague down there.”

In this situation, babies and children are at major risk, which is why Varain is trying to collect nutritional items for them.

Varain said living conditions may worsen when Haiti is in its rainy season in the spring where the country experiences downpours, which will contaminate living areas and water sources.

“All the garbage is going to get washed right into where these people stay,” Varain said.

Varain said he is quickly trying to collect as much as he can to begin helping the people of Haiti who will be struggling with this disaster long into the future.

“I’d appreciate any source of help,” Varain said. “There is a bunch of organizations out there that are bigger than we are. We are a small organization. We’re not that well connected. We can’t advertise the way they do.”