Emergency Physician Describes Treating Maui Wildfire Victims

Within two hours of having learned about the explosive wildfires in Maui, Dr. Reza Danesh (photo at left) had stocked his mobile medical clinic with antibiotics, food and water. He set out for Lahaina, a community now almost entirely devastated by the flames.

Dr. Danesh said he spent 14 hours Wednesday driving people to evacuation shelters, treating them in his mobile clinic and helping triage evacuees. One woman he treated was covered in small burns. She told him she jumped into the ocean to avoid the flames, along with her neighbors — one of whom died, she said.

“I heard that story and I was just so sad,” Dr. Danesh said. “There she was, keeping her spirits, and her pets had all died, and she had nothing, and I’m taking care of her wounds.”

For the most part, Dr. Danesh said, he was tending to the “wounded well” — people with asthma or other chronic health issues that made it difficult to tolerate the smoke or the stress of watching their homes burn. Dr. Danesh said he gave out antibiotic drops for eye infections and inhalers for people who had trouble breathing because of smoke inhalation.

Dr. Danesh, a board-certified emergency physician, runs an urgent care center and mobile clinic, MODO Mobile Doctors, which he said he started in hope of expanding access to outpatient care in Maui. But even as someone accustomed to working in the emergency room, Dr. Danesh said, he wasn’t prepared for what he saw on his drive to Lahaina on Wednesday morning.


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