Bill Neiss, Opportunities in Emergency Care director at Spring Lake Park High School, is planning to take a group of emergency medical responders to the Dominican Republic this month on a medical mission trip.
“I’ve always wanted to do a straight-up medical trip,” Neiss said.
The group of eight will team with a local physician and nurse in San Juan to help people “and to give students a chance to do some medicine at a level they might not get to do here,” Neiss told the Blaine/Spring Lake Park Life.
Neiss is looking into lining up work at a barrio (neighborhood) clinic where his group members could have the opportunity to help administer anything from tooth care to sewing up wounds.
“Whatever comes in,” Neiss said, about the clinics that have the potential of seeing 100 to 200 patients a day.
Four alumni of Spring Lake Park’s OEC program, Neiss’s 15-year-old daughter and her teenage friend, and a nurse from the Minneapolis Shriners Hospital for Children will accompany Neiss to San Juan.
Neiss figures costs for the trip at about $1,200 per person. The group has been busy fund-raising. Some have volunteered to work emergency medical at such events as Blaine’s Fourth of July celebration, Spring Lake Park’s Tower Days, the USA Cup Youth Soccer Tournament at the National Sports Center in Blaine and more.
The Spring Lake Park Lions Club and Anoka American Legion have donated funds and the group is requesting donations from families and friends. A pharmacist at Unity Hospital in Fridley donated 32 scrubs for the trip.
The Spring Lake Park group will leave Aug. 11 and return Aug. 18.
Neiss has led his emergency care students on trips to successfully compete in national and international emergency responder competitions as part of IRECA (International Rescue and Emergency Care Association) and HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America), but it’s been a while since he’s headed a medical mission.
The last one was to Santiago, Mexico, in 2004, when he and a group of his students delivered an ambulance to the locals there.
In 2006, Neiss and his students, along with SLP High School’s former industrial tech and construction trades instructor Mark Voigt, volunteered as part of a construction mission in Gulf Port, Miss. They helped disaster victims rebuild their homes after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, wreaking havoc along the Gulf Coast from central Florida to Texas.
“I think each of us comes back with a much better idea of how good we have it here and they’ll have the opportunity to serve,” Neiss said about the trips.
The 2012 group anticipates the trip with great excitement, he said.
“With mission trips, you never know what to expect,” Neiss said.
Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]