UBC medical student responds to devastating flood

Brayden Fishbook, a student in UBC’s Southern Medicine Program, was on his way to Chilliwack for a family medicine internship when he got stranded due to the catastrophic event in the province’s Atmospheric River.

Brayden fish book

Departing from Kelowna on Sunday afternoon of November 14, he opted for the Hope-Princeton Highway from Highway 3 because the Coquihalla Highway had been closed due to a landslide.

When he arrived in Hope four hours later, traffic crawled through the town as torrential rains poured in.

“I came across a completely dark hotel and quickly realized that the whole city was without electricity,” says Fishbook. “Cars were parked at gas stations waiting for power to return and traffic was diverted across the Fraser River as Highway 1 was now closed.”

Fishbook followed the diverted traffic to Highway 7 and eventually came to a stop due to another landslide. With Route 3 also blocked, all roads entering and leaving the small rural community were closed indefinitely.

Exhausted and resigned to his situation, Fishbook pulled up to the side of the road and spent the night in his car. “Luckily I had my sleeping bag, pillow, and some food that I packed for my stay in Chilliwack,” he says. “It wasn’t too cold during the night and I managed to get some sleep.”

“Wanting to make the most of my educational experience, I went to the local hospital on Tuesday morning and offered to help wherever I could. “
Brayden fish book

In the morning, Fishbook returned to Hope and visited an emergency shelter at a local church to determine his next move. Through family ties and a few social media calls, he found a place to stay with a couple from Hope who opened up their home and neighboring cabins to stranded travelers looking for a place to stay and a place to stay. a warm meal.

“There was a lot of speculation and uncertainty about which roads would open and when people could leave,” says Fishbook. “Wanting to make the most of my educational experience, I went to the local hospital on Tuesday morning and offered to help wherever I could. “

Fraser Health staff at Fraser Canyon Hospital put Fishbook in touch with Dr Beth Watt, Langley’s family doctor and clinical instructor at UBC, also stranded in Hope. Together, they were tasked with meeting the non-urgent medical needs of travelers temporarily staying at the local high school shelter.

Throughout the day, Fishbook vividly remembered the thunderous and almost constant noise of helicopters flying to refuel the local airport and pacing the roads. Many evacuated travelers have chosen to abandon their vehicles in favor of private charter flights to return home.

On Wednesday morning, Watt and Fishbook worked at a makeshift medical clinic that had been set up in high school and spent the day assessing and helping patients. An unusual learning environment from his fourth year of training with the SMP based at UBC Okanagan.

“I have certainly gained a greater appreciation for rural medicine and disaster response management. “
Brayden fish book

“Dr. Watt used blank sheets of paper to write prescriptions and we worked with the local pharmacy to ensure that patients could access an emergency supply of their medication,” Fishbook explains. patients just needed to talk about their experience and trauma to help calm their nerves. But we were also able to work with local emergency response operations staff to get the most urgent cases evacuated. “

“Brayden is an amazing student and really stepped forward to help those in need,” says Dr Watt. “It was great to be able to work together to support the community in this uncertain time.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, Fishbook was told by his family that Highway 7 was reopening. He jumped into his car and joined a line of cars waiting for the slightest sign of movement. At around 6 a.m., the line began to pass in front of road rescue personnel and the cleared landslide area.

“I was extremely relieved to move and to have an accurate travel plan,” says Fishbook. “When I finally got to Chilliwack I realized how energized I had been the last few days and needed to decompress. “

“Every day, thanks to the support of our partners in health authorities and the dedication of clinical faculty like Dr. Watt, UBC medical students gain exposure and skills in rural and remote medicine,” says Dr. Sarah Brears, Regional Associate Dean, Interior. “These rich training experiences encourage our students to stay and practice in communities across British Columbia and respond to crises when needed.”

Fishbook finally began his four-week elective course on Thursday, a few days late. Her ordeal not only solidified her career plans in family medicine, but also opened up new perspectives for her.

“I certainly gained a greater appreciation for rural medicine and disaster response management,” he adds. “I am also very grateful to my hosts who provided me and others with food and shelter during a stressful and uncertain time.”

This story was written by Warren Brock at UBC School of Medicine Southern Medical Program.


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