Thursday, April 15, 2010

Triage Notes

Now a common sight on the Haitian streets.

Not all emergencies are created equal.  The triage area of the Haitian hospital I've been working at is a busy and often ugly place.  An elderly lady is vomiting frank blood into a clear plastic bag, a man has large pieces of his face missing and is bleeding badly onto a filthy rag.  Next to them an agitated twenty-something man sits clutching a slightly angulated little finger… I know it was angulated because I looked REALLY closely.  Mr. Hurt Pinky is motioning for me to treat his finger, his eyes beam impatience and frustration that he is not being promptly taken care of.  "Why am I not at the head of the line?" I don't speak Creole so I point to the lady with the bag-o-blood in her feeble fingers and raise my hands in the international "are you serious?" gesture.  He backs down… for a few minutes.  This is "triage"… isn't that a French word, similar to Creole, that means bags of blood and missing faces come before hurt pinkies?

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