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Verslag Haiti 2010

 

Dear all,

 

After 2 very intense weeks in Haiti the RescueNet team members returned home last Friday January 29th. The experience we gained was overwhelming and horrific at the same time. The earthquake of 7.0 on the Richter scale caused an enormous devastation in this poor country and left only few buildings standing in Port au Prince. The tragedy for the people was also heartbreaking. We listened to stories of survivors who had lost 10 to 13 family members in one house in the earthquake leaving them as the only survivors. After we treated their sometimes severe wounds they went back in to town, but where to??

 

On January 13, just a few hours after the earthquake the ‘red alert call’ from RescueNet International to prepare for a deployment to Haiti. Each RescueNet member could respond to this call whether they could be part of it and a team of 9 people was the result this time. The team was made up of members from Australia, Canada, Switzerland, the United States and the Netherlands. After organising many things like gear, visa requirements, tickets, medications etc. we gathered in Miami, Florida to travel together from there to Port au Prince in Haiti. This proved to be quite difficult since the airport control tower in Port au Prince had collapsed in the earthquake. The US army tried as best as they could to manually coordinate incoming planes but had to cancel many incoming flights. After a day of trying to find a solution for our team we managed to get seats on a plane that had an ‘unplanned’ landing in Miami and had sufficient seats left for our team. This way we managed to get into Port au Prince on Sunday night.

 

We could enter the country without a problem since immigration was non-existing at the time. With the help of others we could secure a spot for our tents at the UN logistics compound at the end of the runway of the airport. We have spent most of our nights there and during the days we were transported into town by the UN police to work in a clinic set up in a partly damaged police station. The location was right opposite of the half collapsed Presidential Palace you’ve probably seen on TV at some point.

People could just come to this clinic and have their wounds treated and the RescueNet team has worked there for several days. The most horrific wounds passed by but with patience and love we tried to help everyone as best as we could. We also prayed for the people and worked together with other Christians. Surgeons, doctors, nurses, logistical people all worked together side by side to alleviate the great needs of the people.

Some of our team members organised transportation for those victims who couldn’t be treated in our clinic and had to go to a nearby hospital.

During one of the days we were there a young man came running towards us and told us he located his friend in one of the collapsed buildings but couldn’t get to him. Three of our team members and some others went with him and with the acquired techniques picked up during the RescueNet course they managed to locate him, remove most of the rubble but couldn’t get him out because of the steel reinforcement in the concrete that blocked his way out. An Israeli Search and Rescue team however was called to help and with hydraulic cutters they got the young man out within 10 minutes after their arrival. The man had been stuck for 10 days but wasn’t really hurt and was released from hospital only 3 days after his rescue. This was definitely one of the highlights for our team during our stay in Haiti!

 

A few days later we moved our tents from the UN compound to another camp closer to the airport where the University of Miami had set up a huge field hospital. This is where we worked the last couple of days in mostly wound care jobs.

 

During our last days there we noticed that more and more relief workers were coming into the country who were well able to pick up the jobs we had done in the days before. It became more and more clear to us that the mandate of RescueNet, rapid response to a disaster, was coming to an end and we started to look for ways to leave the country again. However it was quite a hassle to finally get out of Haiti since the airport was still closed for commercial flights. After having spent 10 hours on the tarmac of the airport we managed to get seats on a by the US government chartered plane to Miami. The next morning we had a short time of debriefing in Miami and after that everyone left to catch a flight home.

 

All in all it has been a very interesting, intense and also valuable time in which we could express the very reason why RescueNet was set up, to offer help to victims of disasters in response to God’s calling for this ministry.