Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just re-read tonight's post

Much more exhausted than I thought. I decided to leave the spelling errors.

Some other stuff: The team is Michael professional from Arizona it but can't recall PhD in molecular biology. Brian an IT executive from Orlando PhD in computer science. Mathew the Haitian-American. I am trying to figure a name for this group but can only come up with piled higher and deeper. I met them all in the terminal while assembling the bus run Wednesday morning and they jumped at a ride north.

Josiah and Jordan got asked to join a field trauma team Wednesday at the last minute so they went up. Quick 'good byes good luck stay safe' and they were gone on the Russian chopper. Tried to find them but they are in the field somewhere as they should be. Both young Marines with two or three combat tours; they will do anything to help and I think battlefield medical experience will be valuable to the docs they are with. Probably found some official way to arm themselves as well if I know those two and so can assure safety although the medical teams never seem to have anything close to a security problem.

Some serious stuff: The aid at the airport is finally piling up now the challenge is distribution without civil disturbance. The organizations like the Salvation Army, Save the Children and dozens of US-church sponsored organizations will be a mechanism for a lot of that delivery. Michael is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (hope I said that properly folks) and he is already lining up US donated, already in-country medical food and water resources to be delivered via Haitian community organizations based on our SA assessments. Capacity building in the community my brother Jim calls it.

There is no apparent government here. The UN runs the country. The people are all very frustrated as far as my poor French and non-existent Creole educates me.

The people are all in the streets 24 hours. The buildings are collapsed or dangerous. Aftershocks again today not very strong but the population is nervous. One indicator: We had two places to put our tent on soft grass next to an unstable building or hardpan about 30 feet away. Hardpan it was we didn't really discuss it. Conversation:

(Rick) hey guys this grass is really soft how about this
(Michael) that building doesn't look real good rick
(Brian) I am sleeping over there outside.

Tent went on the hardpan.

Another thing: We met three separate medical teams today at the airport complex. Lots of expertise and equipment and desire to get to work. They had all been waiting at least three days in airplane hangers in the US to get to PaP all arrived last night. Today none of them could find transport to their assigned clinics or hospitals. Zero evident coordination on these large deployments of critical skills. Absolutely criminal to lose all the lives that were lost in the last four days because there has been no logistical planning on this.

I am going to have time tomorrow to do some work for the job; critical things going on and two team members are ill. Now that I will be online I should be able to help iSys (Integration Systems LLC) who have been so good about letting me take off.

So really bedtime now. Just got a plate of Haitian mac and cheese cooked on the communal fire in the courtyard with beef and tomato sauce and listening to the new orphans in the parking lot harmonize with the residents who were here before 12 January. Rhythm provided by the 5 KW generator.

Needs: I can't yet articulate what I think is needed short term. I do know that supplies can be purchased in the States and flown in. You can get a 10 passenger Cessna Caravan in fairly easily as respects landing slots. Anything larger is not going to get in very quickly. How you get that out of the airport without getting people hurt is the big question.

I was at the UN field hospital and saw surgeries going on. I wasn't inside; it's a huge tent with the sides rolled up because it is so hot.

Talking to medical teams it's mostly just a whole bunch of amputations. I can verify that. The marginal victims of the weekend are gone. Anything to help with that kind of medical problem (prosthetic devices crutches etc and such) will be appreciated in the near term.

Right now I could go out and dress 200 cuts and scrapes; primary issue there is infection and of course the pain. I make everyone take antibiotics every day, bought them in the DomRep.

One of the teenagers just brought me my first coffee in two solid days. Hard to believe. Amped up now on sugared espresso so you get more of my rambles. I wonder if they have any Johnny Walker Black? Probably good for me and my health. Brian told me I was going to go home a lean mean helping machine. I told him if I didn't fall over dead when someone dropped my backpack on my head. At least that is getting lighter as I eat the food I carried. (Sorry those who know me still smoking)

One point: it is essential that anyone coming here carry at least 7 days of personal supply. If it takes you 36 hours to get here and 36 hours to get out that means you are incountry 4 days. You gotta bring it with you; you can probably source fluids but carry at least two gallons. All that stuff is heavy and in my case add computer clothing first aid gear and 28 pounds of sat com and the old man is toughening right up. I have the lightest load in the group as befits an individual of my advanced age.

We had a situation in our little fledgling team today. Two team members (no names for obvious reasons) wanted to simply get out in the neighborhoods (which are very cohesive communities) and start handing out food and water; we know where there are some supplies. There really are children dying of thirst 500 yards from the US base exit. The other two wanted to follow a plan of helping the entrenched social organizations operate efficiently. I got a bit hot with the guys and offered to continue my mission. We worked it out and amazingly we got here to the Salvation Army and they have assigned us exactly the right mission. Everyone is now very happy.

This business of responding to natural disaster, or man made, is a complex problem. I am using much of what I learned on Katrina to guide my decision in all areas. I continue to see what I told my mother's church congregation in September 2005: there are no bad guys. There is simply immeasurable need and a worldwide desire to alleviate the suffering. God is in the details they say and so it is here. Information drives logistics drives delivery. The management of this process while being pressured to stop the pain must be incredibly difficult.

The press is all over. At least 20 people told me they saw my TV interview from Monday night I am not really believing it went to CNN the reporter was a Venezuelan from CNN international. They really seem to want to report the facts I don't know if that is happening TVs haven't been a part of any of my recent accommodations. For that matter neither have beds, floors, bathrooms walls or roofs. We are scheduled for showers tomorrow morning.

Michael needs the link now to email his family etc. He has a blog as well so I will put that link up tomorrow.



  1. Rick, your posts sound like RV Davis to me. A little wiped-out, a little wired, a lot compassionate, and balancing need-to-do with need-to-keep-healthy.

    We love you man and support what you are doing. Try to get some sleep and take some vitamin C.

    Do you have a crank/solar radio? If not can I get you one?

  2. Hi Rick,

    I haven't gotten online until now to say how proud I am to be your sister. You once told me I'd made you out to be a saint in something I wrote and you didn't deserve it--maybe you'll believe me now. Probably not. Stay safe and do what you do. xxoo Carol Ann



I welcome comments, questions or anything anyone wishes to post on the situation in Haiti.