Calgary nurse instructor to aid Philippine typhoon victims

A Calgary nursing instructor is going to spend a month in the Philippines treating people who were left sick and wounded after Typhoon Haiyan devastated that country last month.

Bow Valley College teacher headed to devastated country with Samaritan's Purse

Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan stand along the debri strewn streets Nov. 16 in Tacloban city in the central Philippines. (Wong Maye-E/Associated Press)

A Calgary nursing instructor is going to spend a month in the Philippines treating people who were left sick and wounded after Typhoon Haiyan devastated that country last month.

As a member of Samaritan's Purse's Disaster Assistance Response Team, Nathan Lau will be administering antibiotics and treating infections.

“Pressure might not be the right word, but I do feel a lot of responsibility,” said Lau, who teaches at Bow Valley College.

He said he’s not sure exactly what to expect when he arrives in the disaster zone.

It is estimated that more than 5,000 people were killed and 26,000 wounded by Haiyan, which hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Nov. 8.

Lau’s only other experience with post-disaster work was spending 10 days in Haiti after an earthquake hit that country in 2010.

"That first night was crazy. I think that was the night where we actually had some twins, I honestly think were 20 minutes from death, they were so dehydrated, their eyes were completely sunk in,” he recalled.

But within minutes of giving intravenous fluids, and seeing his young patients improve, he was sure he could have a positive impact.

"It is still, to this day, the best medical clinical experience I ever had,” he said.

Lau said he wants to build on that experience in the Philippines.

"Is there a risk? Absolutely," he said.

Despite the dangers, Lau says he believes the good he can do outweighs the risks and hopes his trip inspires students back in Calgary as well. Lau leaves for his mission on Sunday.

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