Faribault couple devotes their lives to helping victims of countless hurricanes

A couple from Faribault is back home after two weeks helping people with their lives turned upside down by Hurricane Michael.

Dave and Shari Augustin are part of a nationwide team deployed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They were there in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Katrina and more recently Maria in Puerto Rico.

After arriving back home Tuesday night, the Augustins are tired and trying to get life back in order after spending weeks helping others pick up the pieces of their own lives.

“This devastation is much worse than Katrina,” said Dave. “It’s the worst devastation I’ve ever seen.”

Coming from the Augustins that’s saying a lot.

Dave and Shari have nearly lost count of the number of hurricanes they’ve responded to since 2003 when they joined the National Disaster Medical Team.

As a semi-retired paramedic, and Shari in administration with the American College of Emergency Physicians, they got the call two weeks ago and it was once again time to put their skills to work in the aftermath of Michael.  

“When you get that call that your team has been activated, all you think about is all the things you need to do and why you shouldn’t go,” said Shari Augustin.

“Once we get there you forget about what’s back home,” Shari added.

Sleeping in tents, working in pop up hospitals and performing 12-14 hour shifts, their federal teams are made up of volunteers from across the country. The teams help support communities with medical care, veterinary care, and mortuary assistance when a disaster or public health emergency overwhelms a community.

So far about 400 medical and public health personnel have treated more than 2,600 patients.

The Augustin’s were stationed just outside the Gulf Coast Medical Center, which was damaged and almost entirely evacuated.

“There are some circumstances with the D-mat teams. They perform some pretty invasive procedures.  A lot of is minor to intermediate care, a lot of wound care, a lot of sick people with respiratory care,” Dave said.

The teams will continue to provide assistance to the panhandle until it’s no longer needed.

The Augustins say if they are asked to be deployed again, they’ll be ready.

“We’ve made a commitment to be part of the team and working with those folks is very rewarding,” said Dave.

“I think the reward is what keeps us going back,” Shari added.