International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through healthcare training, disaster relief, and long-term development programs.
Dec 2, 2014

Supporting Sustainable Business Continuity Planning Training in Japanese NGOs

BCP in-house lecture
BCP in-house lecture

International Medical Corps, in partnership with Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., is continuing to provide training in Business Continuity Planning (BCP) to Japanese NGOs in the form of in-house lectures and tabletop exercises to build their organizational capacity to respond to disasters quickly and efficiently. NGOs requesting training by International Medical Corps include: Care International Japan; ChildFund Japan; Japan Association for Refugees (JAR); Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC); Plan Japan; Save the Children Japan (SCJ); Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA); Shapla Neer. Trainings will all take place between October and December 2014.

BCP In-House Lecture for Save the Children Japan

On October 10, 2014, International Medical Corps and Tokio Marine provided 17 key staff members of Save the Children Japan (SCJ) with a BCP in-house lecture. SCJ was established in 1986 with a focus on child protection, disaster risk reduction and creating child-friendly communities in Japan. SCP also provides emergency humanitarian assistance, health, nutrition, and educational support, mainly in countries in Asia and Africa.

Takako Isoda, SCJ’s Administrative Manager, said, “We had set up a risk management working group within the organization to map out the various risks faced by our organization, but we had no idea how to lay out a plan to deal with so many kinds of risk. A number of us attended International Medical Corps’ BCP workshop last year and learned how to think about risk and how to craft a basic BCP. Using what we learned at that workshop, we spent half a year drafting SCJ’s BCP. Now that we finally had a complete draft, we were wondering how to best share its contents with our staff and make the draft more practical and concrete. It was with perfect timing that we received the offer from International Medical Corps for an in-house BCP lecture and tabletop exercise.

“We had the members of our risk management working group, the director-general, and all department heads and managers attend the BCP in-house lecture. The lecture focused on the basics of BCP thinking and really helped our key staff understand the importance of BCP. With the facilitation of a professional risk consultant, we also shared our newly-drafted BCP with everyone in the room. Our senior management commented afterwards that they felt they better understood what was in our BCP and that it was up to all of us to keep working on the BCP draft and make it a living document for the organization. We are all looking forward to the BCP tabletop simulation exercise in December, which will help us have a better sense of what works in the BCP and what needs to be improved.”

Emergency Scenario Tabletop Exercise for SVA

On November 12, 2014, International Medical Corps and Tokio Marine organized an emergency scenario tabletop exercise for Shanti Volunteer Association (SVA). SVA is a Japanese NGO founded in 1981 and dedicated to providing educational support and emergency relief activities in countries including Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Afghanistan. SVA has also carried out multiple relief activities in the aftermath of flood and typhoon disasters in Japan.

Because of its role as an emergency response organization, SVA had been conducting annual reviews of its emergency supplies and emergency guidelines. This simulation was the very first opportunity for the SVA staff to test their emergency guidelines. 26 out of 28 staff members at SVA’s Tokyo headquarters, including full-time and contract-based personnel, participated in the exercise. After Tokio Marine’s Kenichi Hamazaki explained the general flow of the day’s exercise, the staff returned to their desks as part of their “normal routine.” The simulation commenced a few minutes later with an earthquake (according to the scenario) that “struck” the building. For the duration of the simulation, the staff checked the whereabouts and safety of staff members, checked their emergency supplies, prioritized workload by department for the next few days after the disaster, and otherwise followed their emergency protocol. After the simulation, staff members split up into their respective departments and discussed the lessons they learned during the exercise and next steps forward.

Some comments from participants included:

  • “I feel safer now that I know better how to act if a disaster should strike the office. We should do this kind of simulation activity at least once a year.”
  • “The exercise really made me realize the gravity of a potential disaster. It also gave me a chance to sit down with my family and decide how we’d reach one another in the event of an emergency.”
  • “It was useful for each department to reflect on the exercise. It’s important to share our differing priorities and for all of us to work together to prepare what’s needed.”
  • “Next time we should also include part-time staff and interns in the simulation exercise.”

Mariko Kimura, manager of SVA’s emergency response and preparation, commented, “Since almost all the staff members of SVA took part in this exercise, we were able to look at our emergency guidelines from many different perspectives and see that there are still many issues that we need to deal with (e.g., things we still need to prepare, steps that need to be more clearly outlined, etc.). Additionally, it was very helpful to learn that each department has different needs during and after a disaster. Having the consultant with us to facilitate both the simulation exercise and the follow-up discussion added a healthy dose of tension for the staff and made us all focus all the more on the day’s activities. Using the lessons we learned during this exercise and the advice we received from the consultant, we will be even better prepared to deal with any emergency.  ”

Explanation of the flow of the simulation exercise
Explanation of the flow of the simulation exercise
Seeking protection during earthquake simulation
Seeking protection during earthquake simulation
Staff check the emergency supplies
Staff check the emergency supplies
Sharing lessons learned
Sharing lessons learned
Nov 12, 2014

The Lasting Impact of Training Programs in South Sudan

Nora Hellman is an ER nurse from Montana—she’s been to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake to provide medical care with International Medical Corps. She’s been to the Philippines after the devastating 2013 tsunami. Most recently, she was in South Sudan, helping to care for the victims of a brutal civil war.

When she was in South Sudan, she worked with six student nurses from a school in the capital city that is supported by International Medical Corps. These student nurses had already been forced to flee the city of Juba and their nursing school, and circumstances put them in a camp filled with people who couldn’t go home because of the violence. Every day, they were treating gunshot wounds, machete wounds and malaria. According to Nora “Even when we couldn’t reach the clinic, they continued to treat patients, because that’s what their training with International Medical Corps taught them to do.”

The six young nurses she worked with faced the violence and fear of war every day—but they could not stand by while their countrymen suffered. They chose to do something to help; they chose to become nurses. Nora reflects, “I believe they are the hope of their country—they and all who refuse to give in to despair and instead work to make a difference.” Those nurses are still in South Sudan now, tending to the injured and training families about how to stay healthy.

In conclusion Nora reflects, “Was my work there more important for the lives I helped to save in our triage tents—or for the student nurses I trained who will continue our work in the years to come? All I know is that I’m proud of them—and I’m proud to be a part of International Medical Corps.” Thanks to the generous support of GlobalGiving and other donors International Medical Corps is able to put an emphasis on training – even in the midst of disaster – helping ensure that families and communities have the resources needed to stay healthy in the long-term.

Nov 4, 2014

International Medical Corps' Typhoon Haiyan Response: A Local Story of Inspiration One Year Later

Common toilet and hand washing station, Ormoc City
Common toilet and hand washing station, Ormoc City

Immediately after the typhoon hit the Philippines nearly one year ago, Pamela traveled over 1,000 kilometers from Manila to Tacloban to search for her brother. It look her 3 days to make the journey, and then she searched the city for 4 agonizing days. 

She recalls her arrival into the city after her long journey: “[The] strong smell of dead bodies. When we reached Tacloban, we started seeing dead bodies along the street, cars had been burned, houses with no roofs. Many places had been looted because people were hungry…Like a nuclear bomb, so damaged like Hiroshima.”

Typhoon Haiyan left widespread devastation affecting an estimated 16 million people. International Medical Corps was on the ground in the Philippines within 24 hours of the disaster, providing emergency care to help those who needed it most.

In the Philippines, our teams provided a comprehensive emergency response, delivering 14,625 health consultations in the first 6 weeks alone. Our First Responders were able to reach remote communities cut off from health care and basic services by rapidly implementing a network of mobile medical units.

That was a year ago and the work is far from done. Emergency relief helps in the beginning, but it takes a long time for a community to recover from such a disaster.

Pamela was one of the lucky ones—she did find her brother, alive and without major injuries. But the things she saw in Tacloban while searching for him made a huge impact on her. It was a bittersweet drive back to safety. “It was hard for me to leave…I was happy I found my brother, but sad that I had to leave others behind…I didn’t know what would happen to them. I gave them all the food we had from Manila, but it was not enough.” Pamela’s brave, challenging, and selfless acts didn’t end there.

When she saw that she could join International Medical Corps, she knew it was her opportunity to help her family and her province.Pamela now works with International Medical Corps, overseeing reconstruction and rehabilitation of health centers. She’s helped build a rural health unit and rehabilitate 10 primary health stations. 500 patients can be seen in these places each day.

To address the critical health care needs in the aftermath of the storm, International Medical Corps established four programs in the areas of: health; nutrition; mental health; and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in schools. Through all of these programs, the goal has been to support underserved and rural communities as they “build back better.” The generous support of GlobalGiving and other donors is critical in helping us achieve this goal of both recovery and increased resilience to future natural disasters in the Philippines.

Hand washing station, Ormoc City
Hand washing station, Ormoc City
 
   

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