Welcome to the Dora High School Alumni Web Community
Keeping the Alumni in Touch

Hurricane Katrina Story from Jason Peterson DHS Class of 1992
Neonatal Evacuation report from New Orleans
As a nurse, this is as bad as it gets. I hope I am never placed in that situation. Please pray
Please pray for all the healthcare workers trying to do their jobs in conditions like this.

Subject: Neonatal Evacuation report from New Orleans
Just to update everyone. We just returned from New Orleans to Birmingham with 4 neonatal patients at the same time on transport. We flew to New Orleans airport via jet and Lifesaver helicopter met us there with the helicopter. Lifesaver took 3 crew members from the airport to Oschner since there was no ground access due to flooding. Oschner's heliport was under water and we landed on the parking deck. With equipment in hand, we walked down 6 flights of stairs, (all of the elevators are out of service), through the hospital where there is caution tape and leaks all throughout the hallways. We then walked up two flights of stairs to the unit where they are now caring for the babies. Luckily it was now the 2nd floor instead of originally the 10th floor. All of the windows were blown out of the 10th floor by the storm. On the flight into the airport all you could see is destruction and water everywhere, I thought "Truly a saddening sight", then with the flight on the helicopter it got worse. We were much closer at that point and could see more destruction, more water, looters, Police/ EMS , and uncontrolled fires all over.
Upon entering the make-shift nursery, the first two staff were on phones crying their eyes out talking to someone on the other end trying to cope. All of the staff in the unit were overjoyed to see that someone had come to help. They had requested help from all over but they told us we were the only ones to show up today. They thought we were coming for only one patient and when we told them we had the resources to transport 4, they were shocked to say the least. Then we said maybe we can help more tomorrow and to our surprise they all were even more excited that we would come back again to help. The nurse practioner in the unit pulled me aside and asked me "How bad is it out there looking from the air? I mean really, is it as bad as they say?" With tears running down her face and tears in my eyes I said "Yes Ma'am it is, maybe worse and my heart is broken for all of you down here". With that she had to walk away.
All of the staff are working in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops due to the lack of ventilation. It was at least 110-120 degrees in the unit. They had all of the babies in open cribs or warmers that were off and all were down to their diapers, some with elevated temps still. All of the staff have been there since Saturday and said they don't think they will be able to leave until the 5th of September. With that said, many have nothing to go home to.
Tonight all 4 babies came back to UAB RNICU but they have at least two more babies for us to transport tomorrow and Dr. Prince here in Birmingham said we could bring one back to TCH and one to UAB. Plans may change by tomorrow.
New Orleans is in a total state of destruction and chaos and my heart is broken so badly. I didn't have good words to make them feel better but made sure they all knew they were in my thoughts and prayers.
I'm sorry to have been so chatty but I had to release somewhat.
Respectfully and mentally/emotionally drained,
Jason Peterson RN
Coordinator, Critical Care Transport
Children's Hospital of Alabama

 

From: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)
Date: 08/30/05 23:49:41
Subject: Neonatal Evacuation report from New Orleans

Just to update everyone. We just returned from New Orleans to Birmingham with 4 neonatal patients at the same time on transport. We flew to New Orleans airport via jet and Lifesaver helicopter met us there with the helicopter. Lifesaver took 3 crew members from the airport to Oschner since there was no ground access due to flooding. Oschner's heliport was under water and we landed on the parking deck. With equipment in hand, we walked down 6 flights of stairs, (all of the elevators are out of service), through the hospital where there is caution tape and leaks all throughout the hallways. We then walked up two flights of stairs to the unit where they are now caring for the babies. Luckily it was now the 2nd floor instead of originally the 10th floor. All of the windows were blown out of the 10th floor by the storm. On the flight into the airport all you could see is destruction and water everywhere, I thought "Truly a saddening sight", then with the flight on the helicopter it got worse. We were much closer at that point and could see more destruction, more water, looters, Police/ EMS, and uncontrolled fires all over.
Upon entering the makeshift nursery, the first two staff were on phones crying their eyes out talking to someone on the other end trying to cope. All of the staff in the unit were overjoyed to see that someone had come to help. They had requested help from all over but they told us we were the only ones to show up today. They thought we were coming for only one patient and when we told them we had the resources to transport 4, they were shocked to say the least. Then we said maybe we can help more tomorrow and to our surprise they all were even more excited that we would come back again to help. The nurse practition in the unit pulled me aside and asked me "How bad is it out there looking from the air? I mean really, is it as bad as they say?" With tears running down her face and tears in my eyes I said "Yes Ma'am it is, maybe worse and my heart is broken for all of you down here". With that she had to walk away.

All of the staff are working in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops due to the lack of ventilation. It was at least 110-120 degrees in the unit. They had all of the babies in open cribs or warmers that were off and all were down to their diapers, some with elevated temps still. All of the staff have been there since Saturday and said they don't think they will be able to leave until the 5th of September. With that said, many have nothing to go home to.

Tonight all 4 babies came back to UAB RNICU but they have at least two more babies for us to transport tomorrow and Dr. Prince here in Birmingham said we could bring one back to TCH and one to UAB. Plans may change by tomorrow.

New Orleans is in a total state of destruction and chaos and my heart is broken so badly. I didn't have good words to make them feel better but made sure they all knew they were in my thoughts and prayers.

I'm sorry to have been so chatty but I had to release somewhat.

Respectfully and mentally/emotionally drained,

Jason Peterson RN
Coordinator, Critical Care Transport
Children's Hospital of Alabama
Office 205-975-2645
Transport Request 800-482-4228
Fax 205-252-4471
Pager 205-510-5954 (6263)
jason.peterson@chsys.org

From: Darlene Winston
Date: 08/31/05 08:57:30
To: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)
Subject: Re: Neonatal Evacuation report from New Orleans

Hi Jason,

Your email brought me to tear. I am so proud to have such a caring son. Keep up the good work and know that you are truly a very special person, and I am not just saying that because I am your Mother… LOL!

Love,

Mom

From: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)
Date: 08/31/05 09:22:41
Subject: Updated New Orleans Evacuation plans for Wednesday

We are schedule to leave headed back to New Orleans around 12 noon today. Preliminary plans are to bring at least two babies back to Children's Hospital but we may have more since we're unable to get phone contact back with Oschner this morning. Other teams from Houston and Baton Rouge are expected but didn't come yesterday, maybe today. We'll keep you updated upon our return. For more updated status throughout today you can contact the CCT coordinator on call via the MIST operator. 934-6478

Team traveling down today:

Jason Peterson RN
Debbie Smith RRT

UAB CCT:
Sherry Wilson CRNP
Sandra Milstead RN
Regena Bragwell RRT

UAB CCT made me aware that their media department has gotten involved with this and I put a call into Garland via Hilary Perry for Children's to keep updated as well.

Keep praying for these folks and we'll be back as soon as we can.

Jason Peterson RN
Coordinator, Critical Care Transport
Children's Hospital of Alabama
Office 205-975-2645
Transport Request 800-482-4228
Fax 205-252-4471
Pager 205-510-5954 (6263)
jason.peterson@chsys.org

From: Darlene Winston
Date: 08/31/05 12:30:21
To: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)
Subject: Re: Updated New Orleans Evacuation plans for Wednesday


Thanks for the update Jason. I hope y'all don't run into any problems. Stay safe and let me know when you get back so I'll know you are okay.

Love,

Mom

From: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)
Date: 08/31/05 23:13:44
Subject: Update from second mission to New Orleans

WOW,

We finished our second flight to New Orleans around 6 or 7 tonight, days and hours are running together. All went well today and there is only one baby left in Oschner's nursery. It's on ECMO and Arkansas Children's is coming to transport him/her out. We managed to wrangle up 6-7 coolers of ice and drinks to take with us today along with clean dry clothes for the staff in the hospital. Simply said, they were SO thankful yet again. The neonatologist sat and cried at the desk with our small tokens of material help that we brought. We transported two babies back to Children's Hospital, one of which was considerably sicker than yesterday. Many more interventions and on the ventilator as well.

The media is calling left and right to talk to us but all we want to relay to the public is these missions are not about us at CCT or what we do. It's wholeheartedly about helping people in need and taking just a small token of burden from the devastated caregivers down there. There was probably around 25 folks in the unit today with only 3 babies total. I assume many have no home to go to at this point.

The President of Oschner Clinic Foundation paid us a visit in the unit while we were there today to express his sincere thanks. He then proceeded to meet with his staff to comfort them and assure their safety. Armed military now guards all access points to the hospital to keep "bad people" out. We quietly started our departure from the unit only for the meeting to stop and they all started clapping and thanking us again. These folks just don't know how bad we hurt for them and what we are doing is only a small part of their puzzle.

We are all back safe. There are so many others down there doing the same mission we had and are doing a great job.

I want to make a point to note that 3 different transport teams/systems have joined efforts to make this happen and I am grateful. Children's Critical Care Transport along with UAB Critical Care Transport and Alabama Lifesaver helicopter.

Respectfully,

Jason Peterson RN
Coordinator, Critical Care Transport
Children's Hospital of Alabama
Office 205-975-2645
Transport Request 800-482-4228
Fax 205-252-4471
Pager 205-510-5954 (6263)
jason.peterson@chsys.org

From: Darlene Winston
Date: 09/01/05 08:51:30
To: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)
Subject: Re: Update from second mission to New Orleans

Hi Jason,

Don't be so modest... any help given has made a difference and should be commended. Nevertheless, I know this whole experience is humbling.

As always, you make me proud.

Love,

Mom

From: Darlene Winston
Date: 09/02/05 14:36:57
Cc: Jason Peterson
Subject: Events of the past few days

Another very moving email that should make us all stop and think about just how lucky we are!

From: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)
Date: 09/02/05 10:11:43
Subject: FW: events of the past few days

Below is an email I received from one of my flight nurses that was on the first flight into New Orleans on Tuesday. It just tears my heart out.

Jason Peterson RN
Coordinator, Critical Care Transport
Children's Hospital of Alabama
Office 205-975-2645
Transport Request 800-482-4228
Fax 205-252-4471
Pager 205-510-5954 (6263)
jason.peterson@chsys.org

From: Myra Waddell
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 12:20 AM
To: Jason Peterson (CHS)
Subject: Events of the past few days…
It is now two days later and I am just now really processing everything. I am sending this because you are one of the few of us that truly understands where we have been and what we have seen... I find myself thankful for the little things. It is late and I have to get up early for work tomorrow, and I am thankful that I have a job to go to. I am doing laundry and was just folding clothes, and I am thankful that I have power and clothes to wash and clean running water, that I even have clothes to wash. I am thankful that I can call my family and tell them I love them. I know where my family is and that is more than thousands if people can say. I can see and call my friends and I know that they are safe. I know that my family and friends are fed and dry and well taken care of. We can get medical attention immediately and not have to wait until the looters and gunfire dies down. We have power to efficiently treat our patients. After all that is our calling as medical professionals to treat the sick and injured. I was only there for a few moments compared to the staff that are living in that chaos.

I am truly a changed person. I am going to make a conscious effort not take the simple things for granted. When I find myself making a big deal out of the small things, I am going to reflect on the past few days... there are things I will not for get about Tuesday the 30th of august 2005. The chaos, the look of appreciation for the help and the grief stricken faces at the same time of the fellow medical professional at Oschner's, and the unbelievable mess of it all.

Thank you for your time Jason. I have always viewed you as not only my co-worker and friend, but also an exceptional man and nurse. It was an honor to be able to walk into that hospital with you and do whatever we could to help.
I wish we could have done more; however I will always cherish the small part we did play.

You always have and always will hold a special place in my heart. We have been through a lot over the passed few years and it will be a privilege to work with you anytime, anyplace, or anyway possible.

Sincerely and thankful for everything,

Myra

From: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)
Date: 09/01/05 10:12:47

Everyone please see Reed Dimmitt's message below and forward to the staff that I don't have email addresses for.

Jason Peterson RN
Coordinator, Critical Care Transport
Children's Hospital of Alabama
Office 205-975-2645
Transport Request 800-482-4228
Fax 205-252-4471
Pager 205-510-5954 (6263)
jason.peterson@chsys.org

From: Reed Dimmitt, M.D.
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 8:56 AM
To: Jason Peterson (CHS); Myra Waddell

While I am sending this to you two, please forward this email to all those involved in the efforts to transport the babies from New Orleans. First, let me apologize for not thanking you before for all the hard work you do. In my training in California and since coming to UAB/TCH, I have always had a soft spot for the transport teams. I did a lot of transport on the West coast and my wife was a transport RN/NNP at Emory for a number of years. You all do a tremendous job. Whenever I am on call, I know the patients are getting the ultimate care. I am sorry it took such a disaster to express my thanks and appreciation. Secondly, I am very proud of all of you and your efforts the last few days. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like you. There is just something special about people drawn to Pediatrics. The diseases of children are never their own fault (unlike we adults) and they are so vulnerable. Going into a war zone, bringing basic supplies, and battling the weather to bring these small, sick babies to safety should win you all the Congressional Medal of Honor. Lastly, I was most impressed by your reluctance to draw attention to yourselves. As I viewed the various interviews, I know you all well enough to realize how uncomfortable it was for you and probably somewhat annoying. It is not about us or even the staff in New Orleans (who should also get an award) but about the babies and their families. At best, the parents of these babies have no idea if there child is alive or at which hospital. At worst, these babies’ parents are dead. Please take time to emotionally decompress and hug your own loved ones.
I am proud to call you my friends and colleagues. You are all angels, albeit with helicopter and jet wings. Well, I guess technology eventually changes everything!!
God bless you all,
Reed
Reed A. Dimmitt, MD, DVM, MSP 525 New Hillman Building
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics 619 19th Street South
University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL 35233
Division of Neonatology


From: Darlene Winston
Date: 09/01/05 12:35:47
To: rdimmitt

Dear Dr. Dimmitt;

Just when I thought I had cried my last tears, you brought me back to weeping with the touching email you sent to the Critical Care Department. You were so thoughtful and kind to acknowledge those special people who take pride in getting their job done well.

On a personal note, when Jason Peterson was around 2 years old, he sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his entire chest and back. After I was notified of his injuries, I rushed him to Children's Hospital in Birmingham for treatment. The doctors were simply awesome! They went the extra mile in following up with his care and instructing me on how to best care for his burns. Because of those conscientious doctors, Jason does not have any scars from this accident. I once told Jason that he should try and search the archives at Children's Hospital to see if those treating physicians still work there and, if so, let them know that he too shares in their passion to help children.

I mention this only because it just struck me that perhaps this a perfect example of giving back after having received. I'm sure that is one of the reasons why my son is so dedicated to his job and it is evident that we live in the "circle of life".

Sincere regards,

Darlene Winston
7760 Hanahan Place
Lake Worth, FL 33467
(561) 430-3019 Home
(561) 308-4310 Cell

From: "Tavel, Darryl" Chief, Bagley Fire Department
Date: 2005/09/02 Fri AM 08:41:36 CDT
To: "Jason Peterson" flightnurse@charter.net
Jason,
Sir, you made us all very proud last night on Larry King Live. You were very professional and spoke with an educated but caring voice for all to hear. Your compassion was evident and well noticed. Not only did you serve as a liaison for Children's Hospital, UAB and Birmingham in general, you were a inspiration for the State of Alabama, Jefferson County, and most important in my eyes, our wonderful community of Bagley. My hat is off to you Chief Peterson, I am very proud to serve our community along side you and even more proud to call you a close personal friend. But, as your friend, I could not help but notice the level of stress you have gone through this week. Just remember, your extended Fire Department family will be there for you, in good and bad times, as well as your ole hunting buddies.

From: Darlene Winston
Date: 09/02/05 13:23:23
To: Jason Peterson \(CHS\)

Email excerpts:

Hi Jason,

Things are happening at full speed, but when all gets worked out and events slow down, you can then reflect and move on with your life-altering experiences. I know this has been hard on you and I have worried about you. But you must remember that so many people are so very proud of you, least of all me! I am so proud to be your Mom!!

When I took Courtney to school today she had the video I recorded of you from CNN Larry King Live and FOX News Channel Greta Van Susteren along with a copy of your originating emails about your New Orleans trip. She said, “Ms. Downie, my brother is a hero and I would like to share this video of him with the class during Fun Friday today.” Courtney is so proud to have these bragging rights!

Jason, you know I'm here for you when you need me.

Love,

Mom

September 2, 2005


To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Leigh Ann Peterson. I am writing in regards to my husband, Jason Peterson, and his heroic efforts in the medical field during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Jason is a Registered Nurse and the Coordinator of Critical Care Transport (CCT) at Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham.

On Tuesday, August 30, 2005 Oschner Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana contacted the transport team to help with evacuation of their Neonatal Unit. After many meetings and phone calls, the plans were put into action. Jason and four other transport crew members left on Tuesday, August 30th via jet and rotor wing to bring back four babies, all were premature and sick. With as much food, water and other supplies as they could carry, they returned to Oschner on Wednesday, August 31st to pick up two more babies that were considerably sicker. The babies were brought back to Children’s Hospital and the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham for stabilization as well as continued care. The staff at Oschner was extremely overjoyed to see them, as they were not sure that any transport service would take the risk since the conditions were catastrophic. CCT was the first transport service to arrive on Tuesday.

As evident in the attached correspondence, seeing the reality of the mass destruction was astonishing for the transport team and this left them emotionally as well as physically drained. What they experienced will no doubt stay with them forever in their hearts and minds. Please read the attached emails and responses for further details.

Jason’s calling to help others does not stop when he comes home from work. For the past 15 years he has been faithfully dedicated to a volunteer fire department here in our hometown of Bagley, Alabama and because of his unwavering devotion he has achieved the current position of Assistant Chief. Jason has been in the media a lot this week and in one interview he quoted these words, “This is what I was put here to do”.

People who have this God-given gift should be recognized and this is my way of doing just that. I am very proud of my husband and the efforts he makes everyday to help someone. I can also speak for his parents and say that he has made them extremely proud as well.

I hope you will be as touched by Jason and what he experienced as those who know him are. It really makes you stop and remember what all we have to be thankful for. The people affected by this devastation are in my thoughts and prayers daily.

Sincerely and thankfully,

Leigh Ann Peterson
8066 John Goggins Road
Dora, AL 35062
(205) 648-5808 Home
(205) 919-8484 Cell
mrsjpete@charter.net


Current Obits

 

 
Please Support our Sponsors
 

Ellis Automotive

205-648-3115

Carl Cannon Chevrolet

205544-2319

Horse Creek Golf

205-648-1499

The Edwards Agency

205-648-2830

UMC - United Motor Co

205-295-5060

Green Top Cafe

205-648-9838


Walker Recovery

205-221-1799


Robinson Cleaners

205-648-1046

R and H Plumbing

205-282-1918