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Doctor tells of race to save lives in Abaco during Dorian

After treating roughly 20 critical patients at a clinic in Treasure Cay during Hurricane Dorian, Dr. Tamika Rolle-Fynes said she hopes to get licensed to practice medicine in The Bahamas.

“I went to school in Cuba and I am waiting to do an exam…so I’m not practicing,” Rolle-Fynes told The Nassau Guardian.

“I currently work as a physician’s assistant for Dr. George Charite.”

Rolle-Fynes, 42, a resident of Treasure Cay, sought refuge at a clinic during Dorian – the strongest hurricane to ever hit the northern Bahamas – because the house she was staying in became unsafe.

“The only building that was standing in Treasure Cay was Corbett Medical, a private clinic, and I saw someone just beckoning to everyone just to come in,” she said.

“When we got in there, we had maybe – I’d say – about 150 to 200 persons inside the clinic. [There was] standing room only.”

Dr. Tamika Rolle-Fynes.

Rolle-Fynes said an hour after she arrived at the clinic, she was approached by someone who requested that she assist medically and “from then, I was starting to see patients”.

She said her youngest patient was a 13-year-old with a wound to the back of his leg.

Rolle-Fynes said the worst injury she treated was an arm amputation.

She was initially unable to help the victim because he was located far from the clinic and the strength of the winds prevented her from leaving.

However, she said, the next morning, the victim and his family found their way to the clinic for medical assistance.

“His wife had already put a tourniquet on it and bandaged it up. I wasn’t sure how much blood he had lost, so I had to put up an IV (intravenous therapy) and give him some fluids just in case,” Rolle-Fynes said.

“I was able to set that up.

“I told them, ‘He can’t stay in Treasure Cay. If he stays in Treasure Cay, he will die. He has to get off Abaco.’”

As Dorian was over the island, according to Rolle-Fynes, she along with other residents took an ambulance from Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour.

“On the way out of Treasure Cay, they told me another person was injured,” Rolle-Fynes said.

“They said his roof fell on him and asked if I could’ve checked him out.

“When I got to them, I said, ‘No, he has to get in too’ because he was in a lot of pain and I knew he had head trauma, so I had to get him out also.”

She said the drive took four and a half hours during the storm.

“There was a couple of times when I thought the ambulance was going to turn over,” Rolle-Fynes said.

She said both men were subsequently taken to New Providence for treatment.

Rolle-Fynes said when she returned to the clinic in Treasure Cay “more patients just kept coming”.

“When the hurricane finally left us, I tried to get another set of patients to Marsh Harbour to be evacuated, but they said that the roads were too bad,” she said.

She described Abaco post-Dorian as similar to being “war-torn”, noting that it looked like “a bomb was dropped in the middle of Treasure Cay”.

Rolle-Fynes said she treated at least 30 patients during the storm.

“At least 20 of them had life-threatening injuries and had to be evacuated,” she said.

Rolle-Fynes said she “didn’t have any feeling” as she gave assistance because she was so busy.

“Honestly, when I was in my friend’s home, I honestly thought that we were going to die,” Rolle-Fynes said.

“I will not lie to you. I didn’t think we were going to make it out of there.”

She added, “Working kept me occupied and not thinking about what was going on or what we had lost or if we would make it. I just worked and so that helped me.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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