When disaster strikes, this South Jordan nurse answers call for help
Dec 10, 2018 04:38PM
● By Jennifer Gardiner
Sheryl Dority as she is arriving at the airport at 4:45 a.m. for deployment.
By Jennifer Gardiner | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheryl Dority, a registered nurse from South Jordan, just returned home after spending three weeks assisting those affected by a major tropical cyclone that ripped through the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in October
“The destruction we witnessed on that beautiful island is beyond words,” said Dority. “Homes, vegetation and power lines in shambles. Our initial deployment orders were for two weeks, but due to the remoteness of the location and the amount of assistance needed, we were asked to extend our orders for an additional week.”
Dority, a nurse for Intermountain Health Care, was chosen in October to help fill in for an RN position with the Hawaii team originally assigned to help with Hurricane Michael. Dority is an intermittent employee for the federal government under the division of Health and Human Services and the National Disaster Medical Services and serves with the UTAH-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team.
A day before their departure, the mission was changed, and they were sent to a pre-staging mission in Guam due to a Category 5 storm headed their way. But the storm had a different idea and passed over Guam and changed its course.
On Oct. 25, Super Typhoon Yutu made landfall on the Islands as a catastrophic category 4 storm. The largest Islands, Saipan and Tinian and Rota were hit with winds of over 174 mph, destroying homes and cutting off power to the entirety of the Islands. Two people were killed, and 130 people were injured.
After the storm Dority and the team were flown into render aid.
In the first eight days, their personnel treated more than 1,400 patients for cleanup related injuries, such as lacerations and puncture wounds.
“While in Saipan, we treated patients in the ER, at a stationary clinic and also with strike teams going into the community shelters and various places,” said Dority. “We treated post-storm injuries, gave immunizations, refilled lost medications and provided general medical care.”
Dority finally made it back home Nov. 7. Efforts to help residents of the Islands, however, will continue until the territory no longer needs the support.
Dority said her most profound experience about deployment was experiencing the devastating effects of such a powerful storm, the impacts on the people of Saipan, their resilience and their gratitude.
“I loved feeling that my efforts may have eased their burdens in some small way,” said Dority. “My nephew served 18 months of his LDS church mission in Saipan. I feel grateful that I was there that I was able to meet care for some of the people who knew and remember him. To hear them say, ‘Elder Cook’s aunt is here helping us!’ brought me great joy.”
Dority said this is the third time she has been deployed to render aid for those in need. The last deployment she was sent to Houston, Texas, to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, and she is very appreciative of her supervisor and co-workers who covered my shifts while I was away.
“My small strike team consisted of an MD from Florida; an RN from California; a roto-wing paramedic from Chicago, Illinois; and myself,” said Dority. “About half of the team deployed were from the Hawaii team. The rest of the 26-member team were backfilled from other teams around the U.S.”
Dority has resided in South Jordan for nearly 17 years where her children attend Bingham High School. She has been employed by Intermountain Health Care for 30 years. Twenty-seven of those years were as a charge nurse in the Shock-Trauma ICU and for the past few months as Tele-Critical Care nurse.
NDMS is a federal program, comprising approximately 5,000 physicians, nurses, veterinary staff, paramedics, fatality management professionals and experienced command and control staff that supports communities.
For more information about federal medical response and NDMS, visit www.phe.gov.