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2 Davis County medical personnel help at Haitian tent cities

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Gorilla glue and Gatorade come in handy for a couple of Utah medical personnel who winged their way to Haiti to do some doctoring in the roughest areas in the days following the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Clinton family practitioner Corey Ericksen and Kaysville physical therapist Nylin Johnson wandered through several tent cities treating everything from dehydrated babies to infected lacerations. They were armed with 5,000 antibiotic capsules, Pedialyte for infants, baby bottles and bandages.

"There's so much to be done," said Johnson during those hectic days, adding it is overwhelming when looking at the big picture. "You just have to take (them) one at a time."

When they walked through Champs de Mars, one of the largest of about 600 makeshift communities in the Port-au-Prince area, this one in a park near the presidential palace. A crowd quickly gathered at the edge of a concrete bench under a large tree where several families had shelters of bed sheets and corrugated sheet metal. A pile of laundry dried on a bush and an older woman swept debris from her gravel floor.

Women carrying babies ringed Ericksen and Johnson.

"This is a dehydrated kid," Ericksen said holding a lethargic infant. "Won't drink. Everything goes right through. This is a sick kid."

He administered some medication with a needleless syringe and showed the mother how to do it as a Haitian interpreter explained. While infants get Pedialyte, older children get Gatorade to boost their electrolytes.

One patient was a middle-aged woman wearing a pink scarf over her head and what looked like a nightshirt held with a safety pin. She had a gaping wound on her right leg. Ericksen drained the pus with a syringe, cleaned the wound with Betadine, sewed loose sutures and placed a dressing over it. He sent her on her way with antibiotics.

At one point, the pair came across a man with a cut on his foot. Johnson reached into his bag for a bottle of Gorilla glue to seal the wound.

They figured to see hundreds of people before starting their trek home.

Ericksen and Johnson were initially apprehensive about entering the tent cities, but other than some "scary" looks, they moved around freely.

"Even though there have been other world disasters, I never felt compelled to go there," Ericksen said. " This one felt different."

Ericksen tried for a week after the earthquake to connect with a group of doctors coming to Haiti but nothing materialized. He eventually called Johnson and they soon were en route to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where they rented a car and followed a crude road map.

They didn't have an easy time driving across the country, getting stuck at the border for a night. A woman put them up and posted a man with a sawed-off shotgun to watch the car. But the two say it was worth it.

"It's been an experience," Johnson said. "It's been awesome."

e-mail: romboy@desnews.com