Gaelle answered the call to help in Samoa

Gaelle was part of a team of 13 British doctors, nurses and physiotherapists who worked round the clock to treat the children as part of a UK Emergency Medical Team (UK EMT) response.

Speaking of her experience Gaelle said: “I feel privileged to have been asked to join the UK EMT team going out to Samoa.

“As a physiotherapist in an emergency setting such as that seen in Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital (TTMH), you use respiratory skills to help settle a child’s work of breathing and prevent them from deteriorating or, in children that are so unwell they require non-invasive or invasive ventilation, you can help make it easier for them to take bigger breaths in, or help clear secretions that are often causing significant respiratory distress. It’s tough and it’s challenging, but there is nothing better than seeing a child’s breathing improve, no longer having to fight so hard, no longer in such acute distress and the worry that is replaced by relief on their parents face as they too notice their child’s breathing has improved and they are more settled.”

Above: Gaelle, far right

Teams were sent following a request from the World Health Organisation and the Government of Samoa to Emergency Medical Teams around the world to help respond to the outbreak. Members of the specialist team were selected based on their expertise in paediatrics, infectious diseases and critical care.

Gaelle added: “A huge element in these deployments is the support you have from your Board, team leads and colleagues and the support I received from RHC and NHSGGC made the deployment process and time working in Samoa seamless.

“The team I work within were amazing at stepping in to cover clinics/patient appointments and when required, worked longer hours to ensure that no patients receiving physiotherapy through the MSK team at RHC were impacted by my deployment. My colleagues and managers checked in with me regularly, offering assistance from afar for the more complex patients, as they would had I been working my normal job at RHC.

“This support makes such emotionally and physically challenging deployments surmountable and it was a privilege to be to able to offer TTMH the paediatric specialist skills required to help the very poorly children admitted. The huge thanks I extend to the therapy team leads and staff at RHC is one that also comes from the staff and patients treated at TTMH in Samoa.”