A devastating magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck central Mexico on Sept. 19, 2017, killing more than 350 people and injuring more than 6,000.
Cesar Ochoa, CPT I, MD, PhD, clinical research coordinator for Western University of Health Sciences’ Western Diabetes Institute, grew up in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. He gathered friends and family members with medical skills and spent Sept. 21-25 in the cities of Jojutla and Zacatepec, which are close to his hometown and were heavily damaged by the earthquake. Most of the international relief efforts were focused on Mexico City, so Ochoa wanted to help these other areas that were also affected.
“These are places where my father would take us on weekends,” Ochoa said. “To go back and see all this destruction, all the people living in the street, it’s very sad.”
His group provided emergency medical attention in the disaster zone, and also provided medical consultations to those unable to see regular physicians due to the cancellation of appointments. They prescribed donated medicine and handed out food bags and care packages with soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
“We walked house by house in the vicinity of Zacatepec, Morelos, asking if anyone needed medical attention,” Ochoa said. “One of the days, I and another physician in a period
of three hours did more than 40 consultations, and another day I was providing emergency services to people searching for survivors in collapsed buildings in Jojutla, Morelos. We took care of rescuers and volunteers who were collapsing from heat stroke and dehydration due to working long hours in excavation looking for people.”