30 Jan Book Review and Giveaway: Saving Jimani by Rene Steinhauer
Rene Steinhauer tells a story of sacrifice in the face of destruction in his autobiography, Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake. On January 12, 2010, a magnitude seven earthquake shook the Haitian people. This unexpected catastrophe caused more than 100,00 deaths and collapsed buildings and infrastructure, injuring many more.
Steinhauer, an EMT and passionate volunteer, responded to the disaster immediately and flew to the country to assist the wounded. What he encountered when he arrived was unimaginable. There were so many casualties that hospitals and medical facilities were being overrun, causing them to descend into chaos.
The author relates his personal experiences as he landed in Haiti and found a medical facility in Jimani that he felt held some promise in being able to assist the scores of wounded people. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before that facility, too, began to lose any sense of organization as resources became depleted under the stress. Steinhauer was the only one willing to step up and take command of the crowd of volunteers and patients to restore order and assist as many people as possible.
The situation Steinhauer encountered was one of utter despair. Days after the earthquake hit, survivors were still being recovered and patients continued to arrive in Jimani, seeking emergency care. Most had not been able to find help at all since the earthquake, so their already serious injuries had worsened with time. The volunteers were short on supplies and trying to accommodate thousands of people in buildings with much smaller capacities. Hospitals were already so taxed they could not accept the more serious patients Steinhauer’s volunteers were unable to help. Even after the hospitals began to clear room for patients, finding transportation to get the ICU patients in Jimani to the hospitals was almost impossible. Political technicalities were also keeping them from sending the critical cases back into Port-au-Prince for treatment.
Steinhauer skillfully explains the dynamics of setting up a volunteer operation in Haiti. Those with no volunteer experience will have no trouble understanding the work and sacrifice that goes into an emergency response thanks to his narration. It’s not a job for the weak, and those who offer their time and skills to helping people in need are of a special rare breed. The carnage encountered at Jimani was unbelievable. It’s incredible how much the people of Haiti suffered, despite the best efforts of volunteers. Amputations were a common procedure for patients who had already gone too long without proper care.
Saving Jimani is a difficult story to read, not because Steinhauer does a poor job relating it, but because the subject matter is absolutely horrifying. The suffering the people of Haiti were forced to endure is far beyond what the average person can imagine. Despite the discomfort the reader will experience, it’s a story that needs to be told to bring about awareness of the potential impact of natural disasters and the sacrifices on the part of both victims and volunteers.
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?
About the Author
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.
Saving Jimani: Life and Death in the Haiti Earthquake
Rene Steinhauer RN, EMT-P
October 12, 2014
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
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