Friday, January 22, 2010

Rescue Turns To Recovery in Haiti

A German USAR team members searches a collapsed school. Photo by: FWNetz

Aftershocks keep USAR teams busy

By Lou Angeli

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (January 22, 2010) -- Despite extraordinary effort and teamwork – both above the rubble and below – there have been no Haiti for nearly 48 hours. Family members of the missing, unable to rest and nowhere to go, stand at the edge of the destruction, watching – waiting – praying for a miracle.

Urban Search and Rescue Teams from around the globe have worked heroically since their arrival. But the mood has changed as SAR dogs consistently come up with no hits. Many of the rescuers have had little rest, and most offer their own rations (MREs) to starving Haitians who are standing nearby.

"Chances of finding additional live victims are very slim," says a New York USAR team member. "Trapped for 8 days, with no water...well, there's little likliehood for survival."

BREAKING NEWS: Late this afternoon, 10 days after the quake, an Israeli Defence Forces Rescue Team recovered a 23 year old male from the rubble of a supermarket. He was taken to the IDF Medical Compound where the man was said to be dehyrated but in good condition. A short time later, a 69-year-old woman was removed from the wreckage of a 3 story concrete building by a Mexican Rescue Crew. Her condition is critical, and doctors are not optimistic about her survival.

According to FEMA USAR Coordinator, Carlos Castillos, 6 U.S. US&R teams remain on the ground in Haiti, joined by a larger international force.

"As of January 21, international and U.S. US&R teams had rescued 122 individuals throughout Port-au-Prince, Haiti." Castillos reports. "U.S. US&R teams are credited with rescuing 43 of the 122. Search and rescue activities continue under direction of USAID and the United Nations."

Aftershocks -- some significant -- may cause additional collapses, so USAR teams will likely remain to conduct secondary reconnaissance missions throughout Port-au-Prince.

As of yesterday,7,000 patients have been treated by the 5 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) from the Department of Health and Human Services and one International Medical Surgical Team (IMSuRT) in Haiti (all funded by USAID/OFDA). These teams treated 2,160 patients on January 20.

Each DMAT has 35 staff members and 40 beds and functions as a field emergency room, while the IMSuRT has 50 staff members and 35 beds and performs disaster surgery.

As of January 21 there are 20 U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships, 63 helicopters, and 204 vehicles in the joint operations area.

Although the rescue mission may have come to an end, the difficult task of recovery is just beginning.


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