Tales from the front

August 20, 2010

Few events bring out doctors' already strong desire to help others like a natural catastrophe.

Key Points

Few events bring out doctors' already strong desire to help others like a natural catastrophe. Virtually anytime a flood, earthquake, hurricane, or other disaster strikes, doctors are usually among the first to offer aid. And thanks to the growth of worldwide travel and communication, and the wealth of information available on the World Wide Web, it is easier than ever before for doctors to translate that desire to help into action.

Although physician volunteer experiences differ depending on the circumstances, they do have some commonalities. Most consist of activities such as dispensing medication, treating the injured, and administering immunization shots. They involve long days, often in difficult conditions, the emotional stress of confronting death and destruction, but also the satisfaction of helping people in desperate need. Here are a few stories from the front lines.