Terry Henrie volunteers for Medical Support Co. to Haiti

Physicians Assistant / First Lieutenant Terry Henrie has volunteered to join the 730th Medical Support Company of the South Dakota National Guard on a mission to Haiti.

For two weeks in early August, Henrie and the selected, Vermillion-based company will provide medical care at a forward operating base in a village in Haiti. "As far as I've been told, we will set up a temporary clinic at an old schoolhouse," said Henrie. "People who need treatment will travel however far they have to, I guess, to this village to receive treatment."

On January 12, 2010, the island country of Haiti experienced a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, with its epicenter approximately 16 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince. By January 24, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded. An estimated 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. It has been estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged. Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the country of the Dominican Republic.

Henrie anticipates that most of the medical relief work will be related to the earthquake. "We will be performing mainly clinic work, seeing some follow-up of injuries received during the earthquake. Many people continue to live in tent cities, with poor sanitation, many diseases and inadequate health care. Medically, this is an under-served country," said Henrie.

"The National Guard company needed another health care provider. I volunteered. The other guys at our Philip Health Services, Inc. clinic were flexible enough for me to shake loose a couple of weeks so I could go on this mission," said Henrie.

According to Henrie, support by the United States military, as well as civilian support, to Haiti has been tremendous since the earthquake. He and the rest of the company will travel as a unit, with several stops, eventually arriving at the temporary base.

Staff Sergeant Penny Dickes will be the unit administrator, as well as one of the emergency medical technicians, on this peace-keeping mission. She said that of the estimated 30 soldiers being deployed, four are medical providers, two are dentists and the rest are EMTs. "We are a combat field unit. We will set up and take care of up to 500 people per day for 10 days of this mission. We do not have enough doctors in our unit to go. Henrie is a very energetic go-getter who volunteered for this mission," said Dickes.

Henrie had been a National Guard soldier for almost 15 years. He was out for five years, then returned in October of 2009. "Why I returned to the National Guard was really an accumulation of things," said Henrie. "Certainly there was a sense of serving my country and my state, while still maintaining my life in Philip. My family is very supportive."

Kent Olson, chief executive officer of PHSI, said, "On a professional basis, PHSI is supportive of Terry's service in the National Guard. His two week deployment to Haiti sounds very interesting. From a personal perspective, I admire his service to his country through the National Guard. A lot of people wouldn't be so inclined to do such work or such a mission."

Henrie added, "I've already had a couple of medical shots in preparation to going to Haiti. I will have to soon start on antibiotics to ward off malaria."

Malaria is a deadly disease that involves high fevers, shaking chills, flu-like symptoms and anemia. It is caused by a parasite that is transmitted from by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The disease is a major health problem in much of the tropics and subtropics. The Center for Disease Control estimates that there are 300 to 500 million cases of malaria each year. More than one million people die of malaria each year.