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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake by Rene Steinhauer


Rene Steinhauer, RN, EMT-P, is an accomplished nurse with skilled disaster training experience. He has practiced medicine on all seven continents including working as a flight nurse in Antarctica, a combat medic in Iraq and a disaster manager in Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, the Haiti Earthquake, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Most recently he worked as the Chief Nurse in an Ebola Treatment Center in Liberia. 

Rene Steinhauer recently published Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake, a book about his experiences working as a nurse and disaster manager to help survivors of the Haiti Earthquake. It is available for sale on Amazon in eBook and paperback.

Synopsis:
The earth shakes, buildings fall, hundreds of thousands of people die in minutes.  Others lie broken and infected in the streets of Haiti begging, and waiting for help. An empty orphanage is the battleground for life and death in the Haiti Earthquake. Two hours from civilization, a small team of doctors, nurses and paramedics frantically struggle to save two thousand patients as the hope of survival dwindles minute by minute. The battle has just begun. And the medical team asks, “Can we save any of these people?”

Managing the twelve-person team, Rene Steinhauer, a weary combat medic, stands witness to human suffering greater than he ever encountered in Iraq.  Rene partners with Danya Swanson, a “daddy’s girl” with a nursing degree who thinks she has what it takes to save the day and suddenly finds herself as the disaster manager for Jimani. Rene dries his tears and gets up to fight in a brutal battle where amputated arms and legs are piled up until somebody, anybody, has time to drag them to the fire pit. The battle rages, hopes are raised and dashed and thousands of lives hang by a thread.  Can an inexperienced nurse, with no disaster experience, really save Jimani?

“Saving Jimani is so much more than the reporting of life and death in the Haiti earthquake. It is a story of raw human emotion, grappling with the reality of hundreds if not thousands of people with broken bodies and spirits seeking medical help in an area where there was none. It is the story of heart break, faith, failure and triumph.”

Reviews
“This is an insider perspective from someone who did not need to be there but chose, in his role as a volunteer disaster medic, to take part in the mission to save lives.”

“This book provides a glimpse into what is experienced and felt emotionally by disaster volunteers who willingly go to places in the world where everyone else is trying to flee.”

“Rarely does a book capture the true inside story of a mega disaster and the advance medical team sent to "hold the fort" until other rescue teams and supplies are mobilized. Utilizing his past military skills and disaster experience, Rene takes charge and quickly organizes a cohesive team in the midst of chaos. With everyone working twenty hour shifts, chaos is quickly transformed into a smooth operation and countless lives are saved.”


Excerpt 


The number of injured continued to outpace the number of volunteers or supplies.  While amputations were becoming less frequent, they were still common, as was the crying and the long walk to the burn pile with another limb.  As Danya tried to take a quick break, another patient was brought into the OR.  The woman was in her forties. Her right foot had been crushed during the quake.  The foot was still caked with black blood that had dried days earlier.  Toes were pointing in different directions.  She had witnessed the horrors of the day and waited patiently for her turn.  She had seen the arms and legs removed and heard the screams in the hallway.  Her face was panicked.  As she was moved on top of the table, she sat upright and started to scoot off the table shaking her head.  The doctors tried to move her back without success.

Danya came to the woman’s side and gave her a hug.  The woman cried as Danya held her.  Danya looked into her eyes and nodded her head to suggest the woman accept the surgery.  The woman nodded and Danya laid the woman’s head back on the bed as she cried. 

As the doctors prepared her for the surgery and gave her a local anesthetic, the woman cried even louder.  Danya stroked her hair and looked into her eyes again and showed the woman that she cared.  Danya wanted her to know that with every bit of flesh that we remove, we take a part of our own heart.  “It hurts us too,” she thought and tried to convey her feelings with nothing more than a look and a touch.

As the scalpel started to cut the flesh and the giggly saw started to cut the bone, Danya pulled the woman’s head to her chest and started singing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound …”  For a moment all of the staff stopped working.  They were mesmerized by the beautiful voice that had suddenly replaced the cries of terror.  The work continued and as the foot began to shake under the force of the saw, Danya sang louder into the ears of the woman.  Others in the OR also sang lightly under their breath as they cut, and sewed, and cried.

About the Author:


Before authoring books and magazines, Rene Steinhauer started a career in medicine as a photographer with the American Red Cross.  As he responded to disasters he felt more inclined to assist in the disaster than to take photographs of it.  During one disaster exercise he encountered a beautiful flight nurse from the University of California at Davis Medical Center.  He wanted to meet this woman and a friend suggested he volunteer in the emergency room where the helicopter crew was based.  He did it. 

At a young age, he never had the courage to speak with the flight nurse, but his career was initiated.  He became an emergency medical technician (EMT) in 1991 and then went on to become a paramedic in 1992.  By 1995, he was already working in international medicine with adventures in Saudi Arabia and a brief experience in war torn Sarajevo.  After working in a refugee camp in Rwanda, he decided that he needed to obtain his nursing degree.  In 1999, he completed his degree and continued on his quest to save lives, volunteer overseas and travel with medicine.  Since then, he has practiced medicine on all seven continents including working as a flight nurse in Antarctica, a combat medic in Iraq and a disaster manager in Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, the Haiti Earthquake, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. Most recently he worked as the Chief Nurse in an Ebola Treatment Center in Liberia. 

In addition to writing Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake, Rene Steinhauer has written for numerous medical journals and magazines including: The Journal of Emergency Medical Services, the American Journal of Nursing, Parachutist Magazine and Soldier of Fortune Magazine. To learn more, go to www.renesteinhauer.com

Connect with Rene Steinhauer on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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