Idaho helpers remember Haiti earthquake

Idaho StatesmanJanuary 10, 2011 

Bobbi Bullock, a nurse practitioner, was part of the Saint Alphonsus cholera team along with Brown and Gambrell, as well as colleague Patricia Brahe of Saint Alphonsus Physician Services.

Her memories of Haiti are a series of surreal images that include talking to a patient one minute, leaving to go to the bathroom and returning to find the patient dead the next. Bullock worked among medical crews from Germany and Italy, using her knowledge of French to help translate over the beds of patients.

She remembers teaching orphans — identified only by names scrawled on adhesive tape pressed to their shirts — how to hold the stuffed animals she’d brought from the U.S.

The visuals of Haiti were surreal, too.

Bullock and the others shared their lodging with rats that resembled small kangaroos. Christmas lights were the only lights available in some cases to light the medical tents. An elegant Italian stove was missing the pots and pans that might have made it useful.

The Haiti trip included black humor. Bullock sent a text message to her boyfriend: “Only four dead today, I think I have scabies.” “Who is this?” came the response from the person who received it by mistake.

Haiti was a study in extremes. Bullock remembers a woman, holding a baby, begging for money. Under strict instruction to not give money for danger of being trampled, Bullock gave the woman her bottle of water. The woman looked Bullock in the eye, and emptied the water on the ground.

“It was like she was saying, ‘How dare you think this would help me,’ ” said Bullock.

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