Thank you so very much for your generous support of our efforts in Haiti!
As of January 15th 2010:
The Haitian Red Cross says it believes 45,000 to 50,000 people died and 3 million more hurt or left homeless. Today, many people are still trapped alive in the rubble and Haitians are wandering the streets of Port-au-Prince searching for water, food and medical help, with thousands of bodies lying on the roadsides.
The International Medical Corps Emergency Response Team (ERT) which arrived in Port-au-Prince via Santa Domingo on Wednesday afternoon less than 24 hours after the earthquake described their late afternoon drive from the airport as surreal. Most of the town does not have electricity, yet random traffic lights were operational. The streets they drive down were strewn with rubble and fallen cables and littered with vehicles and buses that had crashed as the quake struck. People lined the streets - standing away from buildings and quietly sitting in a daze, exhausted and scared of the next aftershock. Many injured people were helpless in the crowds and many dead bodies were stacked up along the side of the road.
The seaport is damaged (cranes collapsed). The Port-au-Prince airport is damaged and planes full of supplies arrived yesterday more quickly than ground crews could unload them. This led to such congestion that the airport is now closed to commercial air traffic, probably until tomorrow.
We do not still have any idea of who survived. Local doctors and nurses are missing; many believed dead. One International Medical Corps ERT member told a CNN interviewer: "The problem is that unlike traditional disaster situations we have few local partners to work with, because most of them have had their buildings destroyed and are looking for their own dead and missing."
We have all seen the dreadful images that are coming to us from Haiti. We all now understand that Haitians are now entirely dependent on what the outside world can do.
At International Medical Corps, we immediately responded to this huge shock by deploying an Emergency Response Team within hours. It comprised an Emergency Coordinator, 2 Emergency Physicians with backgrounds in disaster medicine, a former WHO-Medical Officer experienced in public health in emergencies, a Security Officer and a Finance Officer. They are all relief experts and have substantial experience of natural disasters as well as of working in recovery programs in fragile or low income countries.
The International Medical Corps team is staying outside of the Villa Creole Hotel and sleeping in tents. The hotel is also being used as a makeshift hospital and our physicians delivered services there Wednesday evening and last night.
By day – yesterday and today – the ERT is operating in the downtown General Hospital across from the palace – the Hospitelier de'l Universite d'etat d'Haiti. Three more emergency physicians will arrive with supplies and equipment today on a charter flight from Santo Domingo. Three additional emergency medical teams composed of 16 nurses/doctors are also being deployed today from the U.S.
The ERT is treating crush victims, trauma, basic wound care, shock and other critical cases with the few available supplies. A lot of patients with broken bones, fractures and ruptures.
International Medical Corps has also reached out to partners and donors to procure materials and supplies for its relief efforts. It is has finalized shipments of donated medicines and medical supplies from Heart to Heart, the Bridge Foundation, Project Hope and the UK’s International Health Partners. We have always worked closely with Operation USA and enjoyed the benefit of its relief flights into natural disasters in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan to name but just a few countries. Cash donations – the lifeblood of rapid response to sudden onset disasters – have enabled International Medical Corps to also procure urgent supplies in the Dominican Republic.
We have Emergency Medical Kits arriving today from the Dominican Republic – each kit is designed to treat 30,000 people/month and the contents have been designed by WHO and international working groups, based on emergencies. International Medical Corps also has shipments that were scheduled to arrive directly in Port-au-Prince from Miami today, but with the airport’s closure to commercial traffic it doesn’t look as if they will arrive tomorrow.
International Medical Corps is currently finalizing a partnership with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for the between 90-120 of its Creole-speaking nurse members to join in International Medical Corps’ response as surge capacity – this will have a significant multiplier effect on both current activities and the foundations we lay for health system recovery and development.
We will work with communities to identify and prioritize their needs and their most vulnerable members through the networks of Haitian community organizations and activists on the ground. All activities will support national capacity in responding to emergency medical cases and mass casualties.