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Instead, they evacuated with the entire Tulane student body from New Orleans to Jackson, Miss., on Aug. 26, the Friday before the hurricane hit.
Most Tulane students dispersed from there to their hometowns. But Carvalho and Tellio, both trained emergency medical technicians, went last Sunday as part of the Tulane Emergency Medical Services team to help storm victims at a makeshift medical center in Baton Rouge, La.
There, the 20-person team has been helping with a massive medical relief effort based out of two Louisiana State University gyms converted into temporary hospitals.
The Tulane group has been working around the clock in four-person teams for six-hour shifts, Carvalho said by cell phone from the LSU campus yesterday. They take patients by ambulance to Baton Rouge hospitals and help triage -- make preliminary decisions about the kind of care people need -- for patients that are constantly coming in from New Orleans.
Last night the Tulane team was going to go back into New Orleans on a "medical mission" to pick up critical patients still in the city. The Tulane group was asked to make the run because of their familiarity with the city, Carvalho said.
That news worried Tellio's mother, Karen, who has seen accounts on television about armed marauders in the flooded city.
Karen Tellio said her daughter told her most of the incoming patients in Baton Rouge have been wearing the same clothes and shoes through muddy water for days.
"The first time I talked to her, she wouldn't say she was overwhelmed by the needs, but you could hear tension in her voice," Karen Tellio said.
At the medical center, people can clean up and put on donated clean clothes and shoes provided by Baton Rouge volunteers, Karen Tellio said.
The medical volunteers, although sharing a cramped apartment among 10 people, "have a shower, shampoo and toothpaste, which is a big deal," she added.
The Star-Bulletin wasn't able to talk with Kara Tellio yesterday.
Carvalho estimated he'd seen 200 to 300 patients over the past week, some transferred from New Orleans hospitals and many of them critically ill and without life-saving medicines for days.
One woman in her 40s had been injured in the flood waters and died at the LSU center, Carvalho said.
"I hear a lot of their stories. Patients from the Superdome were telling me exactly what was going on in there -- that they had no drinking water for a very long time, and there were people pushing and shoving."
Despite the suffering and pain he has seen, Carvalho said he is "having a great time" because he is making a difference.
Tulane, a private university, has suspended classes at its campus for the semester but is encouraging students to take classes at other universities and transfer credits back once the school reopens.
Carvalho could return to Hawaii, or even go visit a friend in New York, who sent him a plane ticket. But, he said, "there are so many people who can be helped. I have a national EMT certification. I couldn't live with myself if I did that."
His mother, Ingrid, is proud.
"I think it's fabulous," she said. "He wants to be a doctor in trauma -- what more trauma could he find than now? Hands on is where you learn. ...
"I think that Kimo will make it. I think he's got the right stuff."
Tulane emergency services
The Tulane University Emergency Medical Service, staffed by 20 students licensed as emergency medical technicians, has been providing emergency medical services to survivors of Hurricane Katrina in Baton Route, La., for a week.