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Australian Disaster Relief Team Deployed to Italy

As our Emergency Field Hospitals in Italy and New York City continue operating and treating patients suffering from the coronavirus, our Disaster Relief team is preparing to support our international team.

When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, our Disaster Relief volunteer team was still in Bateman’s Bay, NSW responding to the bushfire crisis. Our volunteers remained serving as long as possible, and some are now transitioning to serve Samaritan’s Purse in the global coronavirus response.

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On April 9, Samaritan’s Purse Australia and New Zealand deployed two medical professionals from Australia to Cremona, Italy. Catherine Stiles (Nurse) and Tricia Miller (Lab Technician), two of our Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) members, joined our Samaritan’s Purse team in Italy to continue providing critical relief to the overwhelmed Cremona Hospital.

Alleytia Bennett (Nurse), Sarah Luthy (Doctor), and Elizabeth Perry (Paramedic) on their way to Cremona, Italy.

On their way to join them are three more Australian DART members – Alleytia Bennett (Nurse), Sarah Luthy (Doctor), Elizabeth Perry (Paramedic).

The five Australian medical professionals will serve alongside the team of over 70 doctors, nurses, medical and technical staff in our 68-bed hospital, which opened on March 20. Our respiratory care unit has provided vital assistance for Cremona, the epicentre of the pandemic in Europe, already treating more than 200 patients. Sadly, the death toll across Italy has reached more than 21,000.

Brave, Selfless Hearts

I said I’d go anywhere in the world, but I saw Italy being hit quite early on, before anyone really knew what was coming. I want to help the nation and help my fellow healthcare workers. I feel privileged and honoured to be going. I will be working with some of the best doctors, nurses, logistics professionals in the world. You can’t ask for better support than that,” said Catherine Stiles, Intensive Care Nurse from Queensland.

With 20 years of experience as a nurse in intensive care and emergency, Catherine felt driven to offer her skills and services to a country in dire need of support.

It’s been overwhelming, organising the logistics and sitting down to explain to the family, but I’ve wanted to be a part of disaster relief and humanitarian aid since the age of 16,” she said. “I didn’t hesitate to say yes when Samaritan’s Purse called out for a potential deployment.”

Catherine and Tricia at Sydney Airport, ready to depart.

Similarly, Tricia Miller was encouraged to volunteer for our Disaster Relief Team and looks forward to helping make a difference with her skillset. “I have worked in research and diagnostics, and specifically infectious diseases. When I walk into a lab, it’s a bit like going home. You know what to do, how things work and what precautions to take,” the Lab Technician from South Australia said.

A lot of caution is needed; sense and sensibility is needed. But I can’t wait to get on the ground and help make a difference. I’m looking forward to be working alongside some of the best in the world and to be working together as a professional body in Jesus’ Name,” she said.

Please pray for the Australian doctors, nurses, and medical workers who are willing to sacrifice their time and lives to be on the front lines of this pandemic. Pray for our medical teams serving in both New York City and Cremona, and for those sick with this coronavirus and their families around the world.

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