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Medical team headed to earthquake zone

Today (Thursday) we received approval from Red Cross China to go into one of the worst affected areas, so at 4.30pm (China time) we are heading to Anxian in northern Sichuan Province to help with the earthquake relief effort.

We had heard that in some areas the situation was still desperate, so Rainbow Zhu (our PR and Education Manager) went in to the Red Cross China office in Chengdu and explained that we had medical supplies and trained (vet) staff who could help with basic first aid and I’m happy to say that they accepted our offer.

So 17 of us, including half our veterinary team and some bear workers (who have offered to help with heavy lifting) are taking the four-hour drive to Anxian in the rescue centre’s coach. Anxian is very near the epicentre of the quake, so I dread to think what we are going to find there, but one thing is for certain – there will be many, many people and animals in need of medical assistance.

I was so proud of the Chengdu team today - everyone volunteered to go to help, despite the obvious dangers. We actually had to draw straws. But of course we are leaving some core vet staff at the rescue centre to make sure the bears are well cared for. I insisted that anyone who wanted to go should call their family first – I didn’t want them hearing about it on the news.

We have loaded up the coach with basic medical supplies like needles, syringes, bandages, swabs, oral and topical antibiotics, iodine, eye ointment and a flush for washing wounds. Once there, we will take directions from the Red Cross and help in any way we can – both people and animals. 

We hope we can help with some basic first aid – bandaging and stitching cuts, cleaning wounds, making splints and maybe we can use the coach to ferry survivors to hospital. Basically, we’ll do whatever we can to help.

Red Cross China has recruited eight Chinese doctors who we think are also heading to Anxian, so we may be working with them. We’re not sure – the situation is still unclear at the moment.

We’ll be working around the clock for two days, returning to the rescue centre in Chengdu on Saturday night (Red Cross China is only allowing volunteers to work for two days straight). Depending on the situation at that time, we may send a fresh team back with fresh supplies.

Sadly it’s looking likely that I won't be able to make it to the US Roadshow next week as planned. I’m afraid it’s all up in the air for now.

I will post again as soon as I can, but obviously we’re not going to have internet connection where we’re going. Meanwhile, please know how much your messages of support and prayers have meant to us all over the past few days. I wish I could reply to you all personally, but I’m sure you understand that things have been frantic. 

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