Calling them "very special citizens," the Los Angeles City Council on Friday honored a group of local doctors and nurses who traveled to Kobe, Japan, last month to provide medical and psychological aid to earthquake victims.
The group included 14 doctors and nurses from Northridge Hospital Medical Center, most of whom provided similar assistance a year earlier following the Northridge quake.
Others came from County-USC and Harbor-UCLA medical centers.
Getting the doctors and nurses to volunteer for the trip to Kobe was not as hard as it might sound, said Northridge doctor Peter Hong.
"The moment we asked . . . we had about 40 volunteers," he said. "Within eight hours we had to push people away."
Although the doctors and nurses have been back from Japan for less than a month, they are already talking about a trip to Mexico next year to provide help to that nation's poor.
Most of the members of the Northridge group have grown so close during the two disasters that they are also planning to travel to Peru soon. But this time, it will be a pleasure trip, organized with the help of a doctor they met in Japan.
"It was an experience for everyone," Northridge doctor Steve Cantamout said of the Kobe trip.
After Councilwoman Laura Chick presented the nurses and doctors with honorary certificates, the group walked out to the steps in front of City Hall to pose for pictures. They each displayed T-shirts emblazoned with the words "The rising of Kobe." As they smiled for the cameras, the doctors and nurses said, "Konnichiwa," the Japanese greeting that means hello or goodby.