Over 900 organizations have been working in Haiti since a massive 7.0 earthquake struck on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. And while supplying food and water was extremely important to the general population, a more immediate need was to provide expert medical attention to the more than 300,000 who were injured in the initial quake, as well as during aftershocks.
I had the honor to interview Alex Cottin, Regional Director for Merlin USA, and learn about their rapid response to the tragedy in Haiti. As one off 170 medical aid organizations providing emergency care, Merlin USA had a team on the ground with 24 hours and immediately began planning their operation.
Besides Alex, the team included a medical director, team leader, logistic coordinator and a surgeon. Due to the fact that the existing medical support infrastructure was heavily damaged, and realizing that aftershocks threatened those buildings still standing, the team located an abandoned tennis court in the Delmas 33 area near Port-au-Prince to serve as their makeshift hospital.
The following day five tons of medical supplies were on their way. With the Haitian airport damaged, the shipment was delivered to Gregorio Luperón International Airport in the Puerto Plata Province of the Dominican Republic and transported by land to the capital. Nicknamed Wimbledon, the area initially comprised just three tents – reception, surgery & post op – but has now been expanded to ten tents.
Merlin is a global medical non-proft working to save lives in countries devastated by conflict, disease and disaster. We deliver vital medical aid and lasting health care, wherever it’s needed most.
According to Alex, their mission will involve three phases. Having established a fixed site and treated those patients in the immediate area, they are now preparing to deploy mobile clinics to more remote regions, seeking out those still in need. That phase could last as long as six months, after which they intend build static clinics that will serve the community for as long a a year or two.
“These are just estimates,” Alex added, “we intend to be there for as long as it takes.”
Working in the Field
In order to operate in a wide variety of remote locations, it is imperative that Merlin USA be impartial, objective, and non-discriminatory in their conduct. “We work closely with the ministry of health,” Alex explained, “but we will provide aid to anyone who is injured, regardless of which side they are on.”
While much remains to be done in Haiti, Alex was pleased by how much they had accomplished so far, and feels their long term goals will serve to repair people’s lives as well as help to rebuild the medical infrastructure that Haiti desperately needs going forward.
“This disaster has struck the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and the people of Haiti urgently need our help.” – Paula Sansom, Merlin Response Team Co-ordinator “We are particularly concerned about vulnerable people living in the slum areas of the city who are more exposed to disease in the aftermath of the earthquake.“
What Merlin Stands For
- We are committed to helping build lasting health services which are used and championed by everyone.
- We are specialists in rapid medical response and rebuilding health systems, effectively taking countries from emergency to recovery.
- We are undaunted by the challenges of providing health care to vulnerable people living in the most difficult, forgotten and remote corners of the world.
- We are determined to make health a global priority; giving people caught up in conflict, disaster and health system collapse the chance to lead healthy lives.
- We are focused on natural disasters, areas of violent conflict and disease outbreaks.
- Having worked in forty countries, we are presently operating in sixteen.
- Worldwide, 93% of the staff is comprised of local medical personnel.
- Financially, 96 cents of every dollar goes directly into field operations.
“I and everyone at Control Risks have strongly endorsed the work of Merlin for over a decade. Merlin is a medical relief organization that is effective on the ground, works with local partners, addresses immediate disasters, and improves long term health systems. Control Risks is proud to sponsor Merlin’s disaster relief efforts in Haiti, where their expertise is critically needed.” – Jim Brooks, President & CEO, Control Risks Americas, Major Sponsor of Merlin USA
Global Patriot is proud to highlight the amazing work of the Merlin USA team in Haiti!