Good People Doing Good Things — Teresa Gray and Mobile Medics International
Posted on March 8, 2023 by jilldennison
It was less than a year ago, April 2022, when Teresa Gray and her wonderful organization, Mobile Medics International came onto my radar and I wrote a post about their origins, and also about their trip to Romania to help refugees fleeing Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February. Ms. Gray was a CNN Hero last year for her efforts.
Once again, Ms. Gray and the Mobile Medics are back on the radar as they traveled to Turkey last month to help deliver care to Turkey’s earthquake survivors.
On February 6th, 2023, a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a series of strong tremors and aftershocks devastated southeast Turkey (officially the Republic of Türkiye) and northwest Syria. There have been more than 46,000 deaths and 115,000 people injured.
By February 7th, Gray had received permission from Turkey’s Ministry of Health to join the relief efforts, and she flew out early the next morning. She packed up supplies to help hundreds of patients, ranging from trauma dressings to antibiotics to acetaminophen. She also prepared the equipment her team would need to be self-sustaining in freezing winter conditions.
“The buildings have been substantially damaged, so you can’t stay inside, it’s too dangerous. We’re going to be sleeping in a tent, eating MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) … This is not going to be a good time.”
Gray also did a video call to touch base with her team, which included a paramedic from London, a doctor from Malaysia, and a nurse anesthetist from Missouri. It was a hectic time for Gray, who says she gets “hyper-focused” before each mission, trying to anticipate problems that might arise.
“We need to find a safe place to be. What if somebody forgot their sleeping bag? We don’t speak the language, so I need to find some interpreters. These are the things that run through my mind as I’m getting ready to go to the airport.”
After an epic journey through Seattle and New York, Gray finally landed in Turkey late on February 9th and met up with her team. They made their way to Hatay Province and once there, began doing mobile clinics on the streets of Samandag.
For Gray, the destruction she saw was difficult to comprehend. At least 13.5 million people and 4 million buildings have been affected. About 345,000 apartments were devastated.
“This is the 28th mission for me probably. The most destruction and human suffering I have ever witnessed. … Not a single structure was undamaged, and we are talking about a town the size of Anchorage, 250,000 people. Nothing was spared.”
Since so many structures were unstable, the government had mandated that all families must sleep outside in tents. In a cell phone video made on Valentine’s Day, Gray described how she and her group would go street to street, stopping at tents to offer their help. She reported treating people for earthquake injuries, including a girl who had been trapped in the rubble for more than 12 hours, as well as sicknesses like the flu that had been exacerbated by the living conditions.
“Whatever they need us to look at, we will. Then we go back, sleep in our car. Get up the next morning and do it again.”
They treated hundreds of people during their 10-day mission, Gray said. One of their interpreters, a high school teacher who they called K.T., became an essential part of their team. In a cell phone video, K.T. told Gray what the people they were helping had said to her.
“They told me, ‘Say them thank you. It’s really good for us because … we can’t see any doctor, we can’t go any hospital.’”
K.T. had also suffered a great deal. Two of her students had been killed in the earthquake, and the school where she taught had been destroyed. She and most of her extended family – a total of 15 people – lost their homes and were forced to take refuge in a greenhouse on their property.
Despite their own hardship, K.T.’s family adopted Gray’s group as their own, Gray said – letting them stay on their property, making them tea and coffee, and sharing meals with them. Their generosity served as another reminder that, even in desperate times, humanity shines through.
On February 19th, Gray got back to Alaska. When a 6.3 magnitude aftershock hit Turkey the next day, she immediately reached out to K.T. and others she befriended on her journey to make sure they were all okay. She’s working to send another team of volunteers very soon.
If Ms. Gray and all those who volunteer with Mobile Medics International aren’t a prime example of good people doing good things, then I don’t know what is. My hat is off to these fine folks.
THANKS TO: https://jilldennison.com/2023/03/08/good-people-doing-good-things-teresa-gray-and-mobile-medics-international/