Lynda Paquette, TCRN
Disaster Medical Assistance Team
DMAT New Hampshire 1
When a surge in COVID-19 patients overwhelmed a hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, the hospital got staffing help from a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). On that team was Trauma Certified Registered Nurse Lynda Paquette from Bloomfield, Vermont.
Lynda immediately went to work in a fast-track area of the emergency room where patients needed to be triaged before determining if they had been infected by the coronavirus. “We had to assume they all had COVID-19, so we were fully masked and protected.”
By the end of the two-week deployment, Lynda said she was exhausted, “but it makes you feel good because you know you’ve done good work. We lost some patients, but we helped a lot of them get better and go home to their families.”
Corpus Christi was one of five COVID-19 related deployments for Lynda in 2020. “I keep a bag packed and ready to go.”
Lynda is a retired nurse with 50 years of experience, with 20 years as a traveling nurse. She was introduced to her profession by her mother who was a trauma nurse for the Red Cross. “I went on calls with her and volunteered at the hospital. I was in eighth grade when I saw my first baby being delivered and when I held the hand of a man when he died.”
Having worked with NDMS since 2010, in 2012 Lynda was deployed in response to Hurricane Sandy. “We set up a complete emergency room at Lehman College in the Bronx. We could handle anything from a band-aid to surgery.” Lynda credits the success of her deployments to the people she serves with in time of disaster: “With DMAT, it’s all about the team. We support each other.”
Lynda plans to continue serving with NDMS. “I want to keep doing this forever. Being on a DMAT team is what nursing is all about. It’s how nursing started and what it’s supposed to be: helping people at their worst times.”
While there are many reasons why people join NDMS, two things all responders have in common: expertise and compassion. These are the driving forces that motivate NDMS heroes like Lynda to the scene of a disaster to, often under severe conditions, help people and communities recover.