Haiti – Doctors Without Borders Teleconference on Emergency Response to Earthquake

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Hat Tip to Vox Humana at MyLeftWing for pointing me to this. It should give you an idea of her present circumstances and the relief work our own TheMomCat who is now in Haiti with MSF is doing there…

Médecins Sans Frontières  / Doctors Without Borders

Teleconference on Emergency Response to Haiti Earthquake

January 13, 2010

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams already working on medical projects Haiti have treated hundreds of people injured in the quake and have been setting up clinics in tents to replace their own damaged medical facilities. Paul McPhun, MSF’s operations manager for Haiti, described the current situation for MSF teams on the ground during a press conference on January 13.

Download audio

Transcript follows on the flip…

“Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières-we have three general areas where we have been traditionally providing emergency care with infrastructure established to set up and provide for emergency services. All of those three centers have been severely affected in the earthquake and none of them are in a condition that we can use. One has completely collapsed and two others are so structurally damaged we cannot use them.

As a result, in all three locations we’ve established temporary shelters and moved our operations outside of those referral hospital settings. The challenge, therefore, for our team, is that the level of care we can now provide without that infrastructure is very limited. So where we’re focusing our energy is on the rapid influx of patients from the neighborhoods who know of our services.

The best we can offer them at the moment is first-aid care and stabilization. The reality of what we’re seeing is severe traumas-head wounds, crushed limbs-severe problems that cannot be dealt with at the level of care we currently have available with no infrastructure really to support it. So our major priority and focus is to re-establish as soon as possible a secondary level of surgical capacity in the country.

That, I think, gives us a general snapshot of where we currently are. We have altogether around 800 medical staff working in Haiti. Thirty of those are international. We’re currently putting rapid response plans into place based out of North America and out of Europe to have another 70 international staff available over the next few days with specialties to be able to respond to these more immediate emergency medical needs. Likewise, we’re prepared now and have prepared freight, including an emergency inflatable hospital so we can set up exactly those services we’re currently missing.

Teams are basically managing what comes to them. There’s very little possibility to get out and do more than that at the moment. Already teams are getting overwhelmed. We’re strongly identified in Haiti with emergency medical care-even our coordination offices are becoming centers of influx for people in neighborhoods with severe trauma wounds. So even in our capital offices where we’re trying to maintain contact with our teams they’re struggling to manage quite high case loads of patients seeking medical care.

So it’s a very chaotic situation. Communications, as you know, are down in terms of mobile systems. Information for us is very difficult to gather. It’s very difficult to be aware of exactly what our teams are up to, where and how things generally progress.  So there are many constraints to being able to provide accurate information to you at the moment. You’ve got to bear in mind that we only had an hour of daylight last night and the teams have been working all night and we’re still trying to catch up with what the teams have been able to find out since we had the advantage of daylight this morning.

Again, reports of our teams actually trying to get out this morning-people were sleeping on all the roads where would have liked to have been able to move last night, the roads that are not completely obstructed with rubble. Massive destruction, including much of MSF’s infrastructure, and everywhere we go a massive demand from people to help them with trapped family members, with people who are suffering from major, major injuries. So, you know, you’re on the streets, you’re getting mobbed, particularly because we are identified with that kind of medical care.

We have not accounted for all of our staff. We’re very concerned about the welfare and safety of our staff, both international and national. So we have not accounted for all of our staff and we’re making every effort to do so. We’re in direct contact with all of the family of those who have family members working with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in Haiti. And out of respect to them and with the gaps in information that we currently have I don’t really have any more detail I can share, but this is a major focus, a major priority for the organization.

Likewise, for our national team members, many of them were involved, were working in structures that fell apart during the earthquake. Many have families who live in very precarious conditions anyway in Port-au-Prince, so it’s a major concern for them as well, what has happened to their families, so they’re also trying to establish that in addition to supporting the emergency care of the organization. So it is, for us, one of the key pillars that we’re trying to work on right now and I don’t have all the information yet to brief you more thoroughly.”

Donate here to support MSF’s work in Haiti.


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    • Edger on January 14, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Don’t forget, if you donate to MSF you’re donating to the work MomCat is doing there, too..

  1. I dont know if this is hitting me like this b/c I “know” MomCat or what…. but… thanks.

  2. Thanks for the transcript.  I knew it was bad, but …

    OMFG this is devastating.  Haiti can’t seem to get a break, can it?

    Best wishes for all the MSF members, MomCat, the U.N. people, and all the poor, poor Haitians.

    • Edger on January 14, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    More news of Haiti here: Haiti: “The world is coming to an end…”

  3. from here.  It is already a nightmare but it is going to get worse.  After the shock wears off and there is still no aid or access to necessary materials there are going to be major problems..rioting, fighting, rape, theft ect.

    What I am most concerned about is the situation at the Dominican boarder.  What will happen when tens of thousands of refugees, who thus far have not been allowed in, grow impatient?  I believe the Dominican army may be forced into a corner and their only recourse will be to open fire.  That would be an unmitigated disaster.

  4. Doctor Without Borders is treating people at two hospitals that withstood the quake; members of the group are also setting up tent clinics throughout the capital to replace damaged facilities. With the assistance of public contributions, the group plans to dispatch additional staff and build a 100-bed hospital in the coming days.

    • TMC on January 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    and thank you to everyone for your wishes and support.

    This is the inflatable hospital made of a series of tents that can handle as many as 100 to 150 patients. The system that will be set up here is 7 tents containing 2 OR’s, pre-op, post-op, ICU, pharmacy, lab and sterilization unit. This picture is the one that was set up in Pakistan for the earthquake there.


    My job here is to coordinate setting them up and staffing, essentially, I will be the hospital administrator. I’ll pop in with up dates from time to time.

    Thank you again from everyone here. Love you guys, TMC

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