Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Update (News You Can Use)

If you have been listening to the news today, you will know that most of it revolves around the unfolding situation in Haiti. Here's some news you can use:
  • People were noted to have been looting toothpaste from the stores. Not to brush their teeth with but to put on their skin under their noses to cover up the stench of rotting bodies.
  • The gunfire has started. People were pretty much in shock the first few days but now they are getting desperate. Looters are out in full force, other people seem to be taking on the looters, and some are even using guns. Note that this happens in many disasters and plan accordingly.
  • People are now sick with infections. The longer an infection goes, the more likely the person will die. Note the need to have antibiotics in these kinds of situations.
  • Relief is slowly trickling into the city but the outlying areas have received no help at all. Plan accordingly.
  • Medical care is sparse, even with medical teams on the ground. There are so many sick and injured people that they overwhelm the small number of medical providers. Supplies are taking even longer to get to those in need. There is no equipment to help treat the injured (ie: no x ray machines, using rusty saws to perform amputations, etc).
  • Amputation is the order of the day due to lack of medical care, infections, broken and crushed bones, no antibiotics, and few other medical supplies. Imagine, you break your leg today and you go to the hospital today to get your broken limb fixed. Even difficult breaks can be fixed in the OR. In Haiti this isn't happening. Many people have went for days without treatment, there are no Xray machines to identify the exact problem, and parents are deciding if they want their children to be amputees or to die from infection.
  • Some people are self-deploying to the country to help. Even though people want to be there to help, it is not a good idea to just send yourself. Organized teams (Red Cross, the military, Medical Teams International, etc) are the way to go as the teams make provisions for your food and water (you don't want to be a burden on an already overburdened system), they will confirm your skills and place you in the area of most need, and they will support your mission whereas just bringing yourself will leave you on your own, unwelcome and unsupported.

There are thousands of lessons to be learned from this disaster. Watch the news, find out what's happening, ask yourself "what if", and plan accordingly.


  1. Cash is king. I see on the news tonight that food and water are available for a price.

  2. Surpising how fast the black market springs into action. If there is something you need and have the means to pay or barter for it, you can usually find it no matter what the situation...which is a good reason to stock items that will be valuable in the event of a disaster even if it is more than you need (at least you'll be able to sell or barter the excess stuff).