Friday, February 26, 2010

First Days in Haiti, January 21, 2010

Under the auspices of International Medical Corps, we have been here working hard now for four full days, and more has happened than I could possibly relate, so I will try to hit the highlights. Each day is more difficult than the last.

The decision to travel to Haiti to assist with medical relief following the earthquake was at the same time easy and difficult. It was easy because how could anyone know of such misery and suffering and not volunteer to help, but difficult because it was intimidating.

My good friend Bob Norris, MD from Stanford was asked to pull together a team for International Medical Corps. I joined a group with Bob, Ian Brown,MD, and Anil Menon, MD, all Stanford emergency physicians and Stanford nurses Gaby McAdoo, Heather Tilson, Julie Racioppi and Jon Gardner . I flew out on Thursday and was routed on Friday morning though the Dominican Republic. I was hoping to continue on to Haiti that day, but that was not possible because of air traffic control and the situation at the airport. We eventually chartered a bus and anticipated an all night drive to get to Port-au-Prince.

The scene in Port-au-Prince was intense. Most of the buildings were crushed or damaged, and there were large crowds milling on the streets and surrounding relief trucks. We watched some come in waves over the rubble to obtain food and supplies. We followed a helpful police escort to bring us to the University Hospital, which is the center of medical activity. Nearly the entire population of PaP is now living on the streets in massive tent cities.

Dr. Paul Auerbach
Photos by Margaret Aguirre

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