Rapid City nurse goes to Florida to volunteer

RAPID CITY, S.D (KOTA TV) - Red Cross volunteers from KOTA Territory helped clean up the devastation from Harvey, and now Rapid City is sending medical professionals.

Regional Health nurse and Rapid City resident Eryn O’Connell flew down to Florida late last week to volunteer, and she said she felt it was her duty to help.

"I was just going through social media and saw a picture of elderly ladies sitting in thigh deep water and it broke my heart,” she said.

O’Connell volunteered through the Red Cross, and was placed at a shelter housing up to 800 people. She wasn’t sure what skills would be most useful during disaster relief, but she found she used a little bit of everything.

"I wasn't really sure what type of nursing I would be doing down here,” she said. “But I truly was using all aspects of my brain on every single case. You know you walk with someone or you are holding their hand or figuring out medications. It was such a great experience."

She said emotions were high and she was more than just a nurse, but also a friend.

"The nights are crazy. A lot of clients leave their home so quickly. They don't have any medications, they don't have their oxygen, and they don’t have so many essential things that they need. They just had the clothes on their back and went out the door."

She is using her vacation time to volunteer, and while some may think she has a dangerous mission, O’Connell said she isn’t worried.

"We were all giving 110 percent that you forget the weather outside is going on because you are trying to take care of all of the people inside."

She is expected to be there for the next two weeks. She said they are still looking for volunteers. If you are interested, you can sign up on the Red Cross website.