Clark State Community College-Springfield Regional School of Nursing graduate Kyle Scarbrough followed his heart into Houston, Texas, to assist with rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey this week.
Scarbrough, a registered nurse currently employed with St. David’s South Austin Medical Center in Austin, Texas, said he felt compelled to help and encouraged by his mother, who is also a nurse.
“I responded to Katrina with my mom's encouragement which made it easier to go this time,” Scarbrough said on his Facebook page on August 30. “I only did two days this time. There are thousands of people volunteering and responding from around the country. There will be a critical need for a very, very long time.”
Scarbrough, whose wife is from Ohio, graduated from Clark State in May 2016. He attended Clark State while they lived in Columbus, Ohio.
“I started hearing the reports from Houston, and I had my gear and kayak with me,” he said. “On a whim, I drove into the middle of Houston…and flagged down a group of rescue boats. I joined them for about 16 hours of rescue missions.”
Scarbrough said he helped about 10-12 families in the neighborhoods of Cinco Ranch, Richmond and Caty, Texas. “It was really eerie in the night, kayaking through neighborhoods, knocking on doors and talking to families,” he said.
He said the families were happy to see the rescuers, especially past 11 p.m. when official rescue efforts are suspended due to the darkness. Scarbrough said at night he and his team were dispatched by the Cajun Navy, a group of volunteers assisting with rescue efforts.
“There was no EMS,” he said. “We had three or four medical calls, so I would paddle in and assess them. I didn’t have response equipment, but they were all okay.”
Scarbrough said nurses play an important role in times like this; he encourages anyone considering emergency medicine or nursing to know that disaster response may be a situation they will work in.
“That's the kind of person Kyle is,” said Mary Cornell, associate professor of Registered Nursing forClark State Community College-Springfield Regional School of Nursing. “I worked with Kyle in his first year of nursing. He was working at that time as a paramedic. He has those qualities that you want in a nurse – a caring spirit and a critical thinker. I am very proud of him.”
Scarbrough was also called to assist in a shelter housing evacuated nursing home and hospital patients. “Service and volunteering, even in our own communities, gives a sense of purpose and broader perspective of the world,” he said.
Clark State is collecting funds to donate to the Greater Houston Community Foundation's Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner established the fund: https://ghcf.org/news-events/. The Clark State Student Senate has already donated $250.
“Many staff and students have family and friends in this part of the country who have been impacted by the Hurricane,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Additionally, our higher education institutions, especially those at Lone Star and Alvin Community Colleges, are trying to start the semester and establish operations for their campuses.
Blondin said the Clark State family has a big heart, and she hopes to see an increase in donations.