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HI emergency team arrives in Haiti

Emergency
Haiti

Members of HI’s emergency assessment team explain the importance of comprehensive preparation prior to launching activities, even in an emergency context.

Anissa and Clement, members of the HI emergency team stand in from of the HI camp outside of the Cayes after the Haiti earthquake. | © HI/ 2021

HI emergency response

Four members of the HI emergency response team landed in Port Au Prince on August 19th to perform a comprehensive needs assessment of the regions most affected by Haiti’s recent earthquake. The team consists of an emergency area manager, rehabilitation/mental health and psychosocial support specialist, logistics technician and a communications officer. They joined the programme staff, present in Haiti since 2008, who have been hard at work in preparing HI’s response since the quake hit on Saturday August 14th.

.On Thursday, August 20th, a team of nine (including three drivers, program rehabilitation specialist, program director, and logistics technician) set out at sunrise for a 7-hour journey to the Cayes to evaluate the needs of those most impacted by the disaster, and to construct a response plan to address needs and facilitate aid. The team explains the important care required in this delicate phase of emergency response. 

“People often think that emergency means immediate. In reality, if we want to deliver quality, comprehensive care that is adapted to the people we’re serving and to the specific situation, a lot of first steps need to take place. Things do move very quickly, but understanding needs is crucial before acting. This is especially true when it comes to something as technically sensitive as rehabilitation. Thousands have been injured by this earthquake and rushed or improper services can easily make matters worse.”

Virginie Duclos, HI Emergency Physical and Functional Rehabilitation manager

The two rehabilitation specialists plan to visit multiple hospitals in the Cayes on Friday, August 21st to perform essential needs assessments for the injured. In seeing those who are receiving immediate medical treatment for active wounds, HI is able to prepare its response accordingly, knowing exactly what kinds of services will be required in both the short and long term, and the volume of people in need.  

“We also have to keep in mind the communities that we’re serving and work in their best interests. This means collaborating with the local ministry of health and civil society, introducing ourselves to local authorities when we arrive, and working together. It requires one-on-one meetings with hospital administrators who can tell us their needs, instead of the other way around.  By working together, we can build a more sustainable, adapted response to the people who so desperately need our help.”  

Annissa Bouachria, emergency area manager for HI

Access has remained a consistent obstacle

Four members of HI/Atlas Logistics reinforcing an UNDAC initiative also accompanied the team upon arrival. Another member of the team is expected to join on Saturday, specialising in clearing rubble from important transit points that have been blocked by landslides or building collapses. Access has remained a consistent obstacle in delivering aid since the earthquake, and clearing is the obstructions is essential. 

“The situation is complex. So we’ll need everyone’s generosity to make it happen and make sure our response is a success in the long term.” 

Annissa Bouachria, emergency area manager for HI.

Date published: 01/09/21

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