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Roseville nurse aids Typhoon Haiyan victims

Roseville Press Tribune, 12/27/13

Lyn Tirona of Roseville is a registered nurse for Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento who recently returned home after caring for survivors of the Nov. 8 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines archipelago, an extreme weather event that killed over 5,000 people.

“I gave anti-rabies and tetanus vaccines to children at the Roxas City Health Office, Panay Island,” said Tirona, 37. “A few days after the typhoon, there were 40-plus reported dog bites a day there.”

Born in the nearby town of General MacArthur (named after the U.S. general who fought the Japanese army there in World War II), Tirona volunteered for the typhoon relief mission with the Registered Nurse Response Network of National Nurses United/California Nurses Association. She joined its second team of volunteers to help survivors of Typhoon Haiyan’s lethal storm surge and triple-digit winds.

Lyn Tirona of Roseville, CA in the Philippines as part of RNRN relief effortThe first, or advance team, of RNRN volunteers hit the ground to assess the healthcare needs of the typhoon survivors. Tirona’s mother was one of the survivors; however, she lost her home in the community of General MacArthur that faced the Pacific Ocean.

Tirona’s group of RN volunteers from across the U.S. networked with local public-health workers to provide immediate care at sites such as a devastated chapel in Roxas City, in the typhoon’s direct path. They cared for more than 1,000 patients there in one week, no small feat considering the loss of electric power from the typhoon.

“It was a way for me to give back to my fellow countrymen,” she said. “I was privileged to be chosen to be a part of the volunteer relief.”

Tirona graduated from nursing school in Tacloban, nearly leveled by Typhoon Haiyan, arriving in the U.S. seven years ago. Her career path followed a first-responder arc.

From 1996 to 2006, Tirona was a firefighter in the bureau of fire protection in the Philippines. She attained the rank of lieutenant, and communicated with some former colleagues in her recent RN stint in Roxas City.

In that decade of firefighting, Tirona gained useful experience responding to calamities. This time helped during the recent post-typhoon relief mission, according to her.

“The genuine smiles and endless "thank you" from the locals that we served in Roxas City was heartwarming,” she said.

Joselito Tirona, 41, is Lyn’s husband. At home in Roseville, he supported her travel to care for Typhoon Haiyan victims, caring for their kids Christiana, 8, and Tristan 2.

Lyn finished working at 10 p.m. in the Philippines, or 3 a.m. in Roseville, when the family spoke by phone.

“The kids encouraged Lyn,” he said, “and told her we are doing OK here.”

It was not the usual time for them to talk. However, the Tironas are an unusual family.

They took such emergency conditions in stride. Their life has returned to normal in Roseville now, unlike the typhoon survivors in the Philippines.

A new group of volunteer RNs is on tap to return there to provide more relief in January, with ongoing aid missions scheduled throughout 2014. To help, visit http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/pages/rnrn-disaster-relief-fund.

By Seth Sandronsky, Press Tribune correspondent

 

 

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