Monday, January 25, 2010

Doing what it does

Last Tuesday morning the Comfort was sitting at pier 11 in Baltimore with no power or people or supplies. A big chunk of cold steel. From the time the President said go, in 66 hours we were turning knots. That means getting all the people and supplies and getting the ship seaworthy. This was a major accomplishment!

We sailed with almost 500 crew on board. The remainder of the crew will be flying into Haiti over the next few days. Some crew members will be hot racking. That means two people will share a bed on different shifts. For the first two days the crew ate MREs. We’ve got meals now as they’ve brought up the galley.

When the ship has its full compliment, with the water requirements of the patients and the water making capabilities of the ship at anchor, the crew will probably not be able to shower every day. And when we do it’ll be a ‘Navy shower.’ Turn the water on and get wet then turn it off. No more than 15 seconds. Soap down and wash, then turn it on and rinse. No more than 30 seconds. And by the way, the water may not always be very warm… oh well.

I started to write, “So that’s the bad side.” But that’s not the bad side. It’s just the way things are. And I’ve not heard a single complaint from anybody on this ship. I say again these are professional caregivers. The best the country has to offer.

The USNS COMFORT, one of two Navy hospital ships (the other is the San Diego-based USNS MERCY) is in Haitian waters as we speak providing medical care, making clean water and dispensing food and medical supplies to that quake-ravaged country.

Read more here from one of the volunteers aboard the ship.

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