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Earthquake Hits Haiti (Updated)

A major earthquake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, wreaked havoc in the improvished Caribbean island of Haiti. The earthquake struck January 12th at 5pm EST in a highly populated region17km from the capital city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The death toll is estimated to be between 250,000 and 300,000 with over 3 million people displaced.

Humanity First was amongst the first few international relief agencies that arrived at the disaster zone in Haiti. The Disaster Response Phase of Humanity First remained activated for seven weeks. During this period a total of 75 international volunteers from Humanity First USA, Canada, UK and 20 volunteers of Humanity First Haiti participated in this mission.

First Response

The First Response Team of Humanity First consisting of medical and non-medical responders from Canada and the USA arrived in the Dominican Republic on Saturday, 16 January 2010.

While other teams were ready to follow, the first responders established local operations in Haiti and a logistical setup in Dominican Republic to support the disaster response mission in Haiti. The team also hired Haitian volunteers whose services in translation and logistics were very important for the success of the mission.

Base Camp Clinic

During the first few weeks of a disaster of such a magnitude there is always a critical need for emergency medical relief. This became evident to the Humanity First (HF) team while they were in the town named Jemani in the Dominican Republic which borders Haiti. The HF team saw a big influx of people moving away from the disaster zone and settling in temporary shelters on both sides of the border. HF volunteers worked through the night to provided medical care to 35 patients.

To ensure the continuous availability of emergency services, HF established their base camp at Humanity First Haiti office site. A space attached to the office was kindly donated by Mr. Baptist, the owner of the property for a permanent clinic. The HF base camp clinic served the community not only during regular working hours but also for any late night emergencies. During the seven weeks of that the HF Disaster Response team was in Haiti the 100% volunteer medical staff cared for more than 5,000 patients at the HF base camp clinic.

Mobile Medical Clinics

As a result of the devastating earthquake, more than 3 million Hatians were displaced from their homes. Displaced Hatians settled in temporary camps either close to their villages or in the Port-Au-Prince area. At the same time communication and transportation networks were disrupted, so there was no formal channel for such settlements to seek help. Humanity First was amongst the few NGOs who started reaching out to such settlements outside Port-Au-Prince. HF teams explored many areas including Carrefour, Gressier, Leogane, Petit Goave, Jacmel and Seguin. HF operated through 28 mobile medical clinics and served more than 6,000Haitians in need of emergency and primary health care services.

Donations of Medical Supplies and Equipment

Humanity First also supported many relief agencies by donating thousands of dollars worth of critical medical supplies and surgical equipment. At one instance when HF volunteers took almost $15,000 worth of surgical equipment to the Miami Medical Center, the HF volunteers were asked to take the surgical equipment straight to the operating room for an ongoing surgery.

In addition HF teams provided material support to the Salvation Army Hospital, the Dadadou camp clinic, the St. Louis clinic, General Hospital and various other hospitals.

Clean Drinking Water

A critical need after the earthquake was clean drinking water. In many parts of Haiti, problems with clean water existed long before the earthquake. However, because of the earthquake existing water distribution lines and many water wells were severely damaged. This left the population vulnerable to dehydration and in case of consumption of contaminated water, a high risk of water borne diseases. HF teams came across many such cases during the medical missions in Haiti. By the first week of March, HF had distributed 798 Aquabox Golds and 30 Aquabox-30s generously donated by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. Humanity First is still in the process of distributing hundreds of Aquaboxes.

Aquabox Gold is a 75 liter plastic box filled with essential humanitarian relief items for disaster victims like, warm clothing, hygiene items, kitchen utensils, toiletries, small hand tools and other general hardware. It also contains two filter cartridge, water purification tablets and a water tap. The empty box can purify up to 2200 liters of polluted water which is enough for a family of five for more than six months. The Aquabox-30 contains 30 water filters and water purification tablets. Each box can purify 33 thousand liters of water.

Humanity First was able to arrange a water filtration system through a group of Haitian American volunteers called “L’Union fait la Force (Strength Through Unity)” for the Dadadou camp. This system will serve 7,000 inhabitants of the settlements for the next year.

All HF initiatives to date will continue to serve more than 20,000 individuals with clean drinking water for almost one year.

Non-Food Items

Humanity First distributed various non-food items during the relief mission that catered for the needs of more than 3,000 earthquake victims. These items includec tarps and plastic sheets to be used for building temporary shelters, clothing, books for children, health and hygiene items etc. These items were distributed in villages, orphanages and settlement camps by HF volunteers.

Due to the spontaneous growth of settlement camps after the earthquake, most of the camps did not have any toilet or shower facilities. At the Dadadou camp, Humanity First volunteers saw a desperate need for a private space for showers. The HF team built eight shower cubicles using lumber and plastic sheets which were greatly appreciated by the settlement residents.

Orphanages

Humanity First identified eight orphanages that were caring for 600 children. The HF team provided the orphans with food, water filtration kits, clothing, baby diapers, baby powders, children books and candies. The HF team also distributed 2 tons of dry rations amongst the orphanages that included rice, red kidney beans, cooking oil, salt, sugar and other items.

Long Term Projects

Humanity First continues to provide medical care through the permanent HF clinic in the market area near Presidential Palace in Port-Au-Prince and continues to see 100-200 patients every day.

Humanity First Medical Teams plan on running a medical clinic in Seguin area near Jacmel. HF Medical teams will serve a population of 40,000 to 60,000 people through permanent and frequent mobile clinics in the area.

HF is working with local partners and Hatian government authorities to identify other projects. Humanity First focus areas are:

  • Long term health care through remote area clinics and mobile clinics.
  • Rebuild medical infrastructure within the hospitals.
  • Build Capacity through training and development of Haitian doctors, nurses and health care workers.
  • Rebuild and support Schools.
  • Rebuild and support orphanages.
  • Provide clean drinking water through household and industrial filtration systems, and repair existing or digging new water wells.
  • Providing long term shelters.

Take Action

Please support the efforts of Humanity First by contributing to our disaster relief fund online or mail your checks directly to:

Humanity First USA
300 E. Lombard Street, Suite 840
Baltimore, MD 21202

Raise Awareness

Do your part by spreading the word about Humanity First's efforts in Haiti. It is as simple as changing your Facebook status or following HFUSA on Twitter and retweeting our updates. Or you can download and print these fliers: (PDF1, PDF2) and spread the word in your community.

 

Past Status Updates

February 18th, 2010 Update:

The team split up into three teams. One team visited an orphanage and the second team was on clinic duty. The team is constructing and assembling shelves for supplies and medicine for Humanity First pharmacy for the base clinic.

The third team is researching Gressier, a municipality in the Port-au-Prince Arrondissement, in search for feasibility of tents, schools, water purification, and filtration system.

February 16th, 2010 Update

At the base clinic 133 patients were treated. This included suturing deep wounds, managing a hepatitis Patient, and various other acute issues.

The team traveled to a remote village in the mountains by the name of Bojo and treated about 170 patients, including a boy with severe athrosis from an elbow fracture 2 months ago. Another patient was postpartum with tachpnea over several days and a profound L sided pneumonia. The team encountered a young patient with a dangerously high fever caused by potential toxicity.

Total patient count for today was 303.

The teams goal is to setup a code cart for the base and mobile clinics for longterm use.

February 6th-10th, 2010 Update

The following volunteers return from Haiti:

Saturday, February 6th, at 3:45 PM CST at Little Rock National Airport:

  • Dr. Iftikhar Ali, M.D., specialized in ER Medicine
  • Dr. Phillip Snodgrass M.D., ER Medicine
  • Kyle B. Rhone, RN
  • Michael Simpson, RN

*All work at the Veterans Administration Hospital

Saturday, February 6th, at 4:55 PM CST at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport:

Alicia Roberson, RN, works at Breckenridge Hospital

The Humanity First base camp continued to see 150-200 patients daily. Additional 50 to 200 patients are treated in areas outside of the clinics. Besides medical care, the the team has distributed about 170 water purification kits and another batch is arriving in 2 weeks. In addition to the one filtration unit installed at Da Da Duo camp, Humanity First is working on obtaining 2 more units with the help of other NGOs. The team is investigating appropriate locations for these filtration units.

The team continues to resume non-medical support to orphanages and other camps.

February 2nd and 3rd, 2010 Update

425 patients were seen on Tuesday, February 2nd and 335 cases were seen on Wednesday, February 3rd, in PAP and Da Da Duo. Reports are indicating cases of chronic diabetes in adults and many children suffering from diarrhea and dehydration. Sadly, the lines at Da Da Duo are really long at the medical clinic and the desperate need for extra supplies such as surgical masks, gloves, sterile gowns, dressings and other equipment and drugs not just by Humanity First's Medical Team but also by colleagues from Miami and the Salvation Army partnered with us. An estimated $15,000 worth of surgical supplies were donated to Miami Medical Center and about $2,000 worth of the same to the Salvation Army Hospital. The team also visited 4 orphanages, reaching upto 40 children per orphanage, in outlying PAP and donated over 500 diapers and 600kgs of rice.

January 30, 2010 Update

The team reports they saw a total of 934 patients, 784 in Carrefour and 150 in Port-au-Prince. Mostly these were chronic conditions cases whilst there are still a few cases related to fractures and trauma. Main cases are covering STD, fever, aches and pains, psychosomatic and post-trauma distress.

 

January 29, 2010 Update

The HF medical team of 21 continues to work from the UN refugee camp in Carrefour and the HF camp in Port-au-Prince. The team saw 600 patients on Thursday in these two camps and also visited some other outlying towns and regions west of Port-au-Prince but found that the need for surgery and medicine is starting to decrease. In Carrefour, the HF team is under UN protection HFDR Team dealt with 760 cases in Carrefour Clinic and 160 cases in Port-au-Prince. The team report the need for critical medical care has diminished.

January 28, 2010 Update

Humanity First’s team of 21 clinicians from the UK, USA and Canada continue to see patients from the UN Refugee camp in Carrefour and our medical clinic in Port-Au-Prince. Today the team dealt with over 600 patients and visited other outlying towns and regions west of Port-au-Prince but found that the need for surgery and medicine is starting to decrease.

January 27, 2010 Update

Humanity First’s team of 19 clinicians from the UK, USA and Canada continue to see patients from our medical clinic in Port-Au-Prince. The team dealt with 550 cases, largely due to infected fractures and wounds. The team is also establishing operations in outlying areas such as Carrefour and Petionville based on local needs.

January 26, 2010 Update

Due to heavy rain and clouds, the Humanity First Disaster Relief Team 2 was very hard to reach. The team is exploring other medical camps and assessing thier needs. Today, the Humanity First Trauma Clinic treated approximately 200 patients.

January 25, 2010 Update

Humanity First’s second wave team from the UK, USA and Canada is now operational in PAP despite some issues along the way with vehicle breakdowns. The 5 additional medical tents taken out have provided flexible additional capacity and will prove very useful in the next couple of weeks. The team is also reviewing demand for various clinical services in nearby hospitals and will be providing clinicians to supplement hospital teams and also some of the refugee camps. The clinic in PAP treated a further 60 patients on Sunday morning whilst the new team were setting up.

January 23, 2010 Update

The Humanity First Disaster Relief Team 1 is returning from Haiti after spending over a week treating hundreds of disaster stricken victims. Dr. Rafi Malik will be returning tonight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Dulles Airport, at 10:30 PM EST. Dr. Omar Shams will be arriving at New Orleans International (MSY) Airport, at 10:45 PM CT. Dr. Omar Shams is a cardiology fellow at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana.

January 22, 2010 Update

Hundreds of patients have been seen in the last few days since the Humanity First Clinic was setup. Humanity First has become a valuable asset to the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince by overseeing post-hospital care and non-specialized cases. Today, the Humanity First Disaster Relief Team 2 is flying out to Haiti with 21 bags of medical equipment, medicines, and non-medical supplies. Tomorrow, our Disaster Relief Team 1 will return from their mission to brief Humanity First USA command center.

January 19, 2010 Update

The team stayed at the Humanity First-Haiti Office in Port-au-Prince (PAP). The building was not damaged from the earthquake. The place was cleaned up this morning and doctors have been seeing patients since 9:30 AM. The security around this office is not bad, however, the UN has advised that whenever they have to go out anywhere, the quintessential UN blue helmets could provide added "security".

January 18, 2010 Update

Humanity First Responders reached the Jimani Village Hospital and worked through the night treating 35 patients, 4 of which were in critical condition. Currently, there are 14 members on the ground, 2 of whom are local Haitian guides. First Responders are en-route to Port-au-Prince. With the rough terrain and broken roads, travel is extremely slow. Mobile service is close to nil and Humanity First team is traveling with a guarded convoy as instructed by the Dominican Army General for safety purposes.

Port-au-Prince is still in total chaos and public desperation is very high.

Humanity First Responders have arrived in Port-au-Prince and settled in at the local Humanity First Office and are working to establish contact with the UN Relief Office at the airport. First responders are coordinating with the local Humanity First members to assess the safest routes for entrance and exit from ground zero. They have been advised to avoid locations where there are large crowds. The roads are swarming with people waiting for help.

People are desperate for water as there is a major shortage of clean drinking water and in many areas people are using generators to supply electricity.

According to the local Humanity First team, there is a dire need for non-medical help as well as an urgent request for tents, generators, water and food.

The team in Haiti has announced that there will be medical relief clinic open for the injured starting Tuesday 9:30 AM.

January 17, 2010 Update

Humanity First USA sent an additional relief worker with medical and surgical supplies on Sunday, January 17th, 2010. The supplies were donated by Johns Hopkins SHARE Program. Please see pictures below. The first team of 11, which included physicians, nurses and disaster response personnel was dispatched on Saturday, January 16th.

January 16, 2010 Update

Since the earthquake that hit Haiti on Tuesday 12th January, estimates suggest that over 50,000 people have died, and the Interior Minister, Paul Antoine Bien-Aime is even suggesting as many as 200,000 deaths. Over 3 million people are affected, many living on the streets for fear of other buildings collapsing. There is a dire need for medical assistance, emergency shelter, food, water and clothing, but the security situation is also deteriorating very fast.

A Humanity First team of 11 consisting of medical and logistical experts from Canada and the USA is arriving in Santiago with relief supplies on Saturday afternoon and will be liaising with local authorities before arriving in Port-au-Prince. Other medical teams in Europe are also preparing for deployment over the next 2 weeks once local operations on the island are established. Communications with HF staff in Port-au-Prince are proving difficult at this time. Other HF operations across Europe including France, UK and Norway are assisting North America with fundraising. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised by HF in the last 2 days, but much more will be needed as operations gear up.

Haiti has a history of disasters with a number of Hurricanes striking the island in recent years. HF teams in Canada and France have responded since 2007 in towns including Torbeck, Gressier, Martissant and Cabaret providing emergency food and water, water treatment tablets and clothes. HF has also been working on longer-term projects such as support for schools and a new bridge in Torbeck which opened in 2009.

 

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Humanity First is registered in 43 countries across 6 continents, and has been working on human development projects and responding to disasters since 1994. These have included the earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Iran, floods in Africa and Latin America, hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) , tornado's (Kansas) and wild fires (California) in the USA, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and conflicts in Eastern Europe.

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