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Medical Teams International | Official Blog

Get the latest updates from our programs in the field internationally and here in the United States.  

  • Volunteer Highlight: Ian Yocum

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 17, 2014

    Volunteers are essential to Medical Teams International.  This month we are proud to highlight volunteer Ian Yocum, who has served on 5 disaster response teams and 2 EMS Capacity Training teams, providing care for at least 5,200 adults and 4,725 children.  He has donated over 1,000 hours to Medical Teams International, with services worth more than $25,000!

    Ian is a Battalion Chief for Tualatin Valley & Fire Rescue, a fire protection and emergency services agency that serves more than 440,000 citizens in one of the fastest growing regions in Oregon. When the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami hit in 2004, he immediately signed up to volunteer with Medical Teams International.

    Ian has been integral in developing our non-profit’s Emergency Medical Services program by serving in disaster relief teams for Sri Lanka, Japan, Haiti, Cambodia and Uganda. He also helped recruit and establish 35 other technical experts as disaster relief volunteers for Medical Teams International. More importantly, Ian introduced and developed a crucial strategic partnership between Medical Teams International and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, allowing the MTI to mobilize lifesaving care as soon as within 24 hours of a disaster striking. Ian and his colleagues not only give their personal time, they also use their own funds for travel expenses, allowing Medical Teams International to mobilize more funding for the people they serve.



    Ian has been an integral part of implementing an Incident Command System (ICS) into MTI's First-In teams in disaster situations. In 2011, a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake, one of the five largest earthquakes ever recorded in world history, hit the eastern coast of Japan’s Tohoku region. This created an extremely destructive tsunami, with heights up to 133 feet, which hit Japan just minutes after the earthquake. Ian led two teams to Japan with the mission of implementing ICS and training members of the disaster relief partner (CRASH Japan) in its use. ICS, endorsed by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach that is internationally accepted and used.  

    Ian Yocum in the Philippines, Nov. 2013


    In addition to being team leader for our first team to respond to the Japan tsunami, Ian was also the team leader on our first team for our response to Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines.  Altogether Ian has been on 7 missions with Medical Teams International and has every plan to keep doing so. When asked why he keeps coming back, Ian quickly responds: “It allows me to marry my three passions: my profession, my desire to help people and my love of travel.”

    “More importantly, it lets me teach my kids, Wyett (10) and Cooper (7), that the world is a big place and that we need to help each other. Volunteering gets your out of your usual ‘comfort zone’ and makes you become a more well-rounded person.”

    Join us in thanking Ian for his generosity and compassion as well as his commitment to serving people in need.  Thank you!

    Original story by Chiqui Flowers
  • Lifesaving Medicines Success Story: Iskhakov

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 16, 2014

    Ask anyone who’s had a child -- when a 10-month-old baby becomes very ill there are sometimes only moments to spare. That was the frightening case with little Iskhakov when he was rushed to the Republican Center of Emergency Medical Care in Uzbekistan. Fortunately for him, not only was Dr. Kholmatov Bokhodir on duty to provide emergency aid, his hospital had also recently received a shipment of urgently-needed medical supplies through the support of generous donors like you.

    Iskhakov at the Center of Emergency Medical Care

    Dr. Bokhodir at first kept Iskhakov breathing using an Ambu bag (hand-held respirator). Once stabilized, the tiny baby boy needed oxygen, delivered through the tubes you see in hospitals called a nasal cannula. He also relied — as he does every day — on the sterile surgical gloves, tongue depressors, catheters, syringes and intravenous needles and tubes, all provided through the generosity of supporters like you.

    Without lifesaving equipment and medicines, little Iskhakov would have almost surely died.

    Delivery of medical supplies & equipment in Uzbekistan

    Thank you for your generosity and compassion.  You are truly saving lives for people in need.
  • Lifesaving Medicines Success Story: Ayelia

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 14, 2014
    Congolese families fled the conflict and brutality of war for refuge in Uganda, arriving with only the belongings on their back.  Now, their children are being born in refugee camps and are suffering from nodding syndrome, a mysterious and rare form of epilepsy.  Affected children nod their heads when they see food or feel cold, leading to seizures that cause injuries, concussions, and severe burns on many who fall into cooking fires.  Nodding syndrome is little-understood and so-far unpreventable, but it can be treated with medications.

    Fifteen-year-old Ayella has nodding syndrome. It's obvious from his eyes. The lids are half-closed, and his stare is vacant. When spoken to, he is unresponsive. Until your gifts of medication, he was so sick that he couldn't walk at all. 


    Your generous gifts shipped medicines to Ayella, and he is improving greatly in just three months. As a result of the medicines you sent, he is now able to walk some.  Although Ayella is still unable to speak, his mother says that understands when someone speaks to him. “Since he has been on these drugs from Medical Teams International, we have seen significant improvements. We are so grateful. We thought we had lost our son.”

    Thank you for your generous gifts, which provide lifesaving medicines and medical supplies to Ayella and children like him around the world.  
  • Success Story: From Fear & Pain to Smiles

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 12, 2014

    We are excited to share with you a story of how your generous donations helped heal a local boy in need!

    A young boy, about eight years old, recently stepped onto the Mobile Dental Clinic van at a local elementary school, clinging tightly to the hand of his school nurse. He was scared, in pain, and refusing treatment. After gentle coaxing and a few calls home to mom, our friendly volunteers helped him back to the exam room. With a mirror in his tiny hand so he could see and understand everything they would be doing to help him, the volunteer doctors got to work. Quickly, they found the source of his discomfort and began to treat painful cavity that had been giving him trouble for quite some time. One by one, the doctors described each instrument and piece of equipment they would need to help make his pain go away. The detailed explanation, humor and personal touches eased the little boy's fears. By the end of the procedure, he was smiling and proudly showing his shiny new crown to the other waiting children.

    Thank you for supporting our mobile dental programs.  Because of you, last year our volunteers provided dental care to over 4 thousand children just like this. You are making a huge impact in your community!

    Story by Krystal Foote
  • Volunteer Reflections: South Sudan Refugees

    by Katie Carroll | Mar 10, 2014

    Medical Teams International volunteer RN Jennifer Guenwald recently returned from a visit to the Nyumanzi Resettlement Camp in Uganda where she worked to provide basic needs and medical care to the South Sudanese refugees. Amongst many memories she made is one stemming from an event that took place during the last minutes of the final clinic day. Guenwald vividly described a brutal dog attack involving multiple children and life-threatening wounds. When the children were brought to her, she immediately treated their injuries and located transportation for them to a nearby hospital where they would receive vaccinations.


    Register Nurse Jennifer Gruenwald Treats a South Sudanese Patient

     “Had we not been on site at the time of the attack, the children’s wounds would very likely have become infected, and without antibiotics or proper vaccinations they may have died,” said Guenwald. “Local community leaders expressed gratitude for our service which prevented additional catastrophic loss within an already displaced community.

    “After every trip, I find a new sense of gratitude for everything I have access to including, shelter, food and basic healthcare,” said Guenwald.

    The Children After Treatment

    Thank you for supporting our disaster response programs around the world.  Displacement is the new 21st century challenge, with 2013 having the largest number of displaced people ever recorded by UNHCR.  Your gifts are saving the lives of children like these.  Thank you.

    Story by Krystal Foote

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