The massively damaging 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 caused widespread devastation to property and considerable harm to residents. The earthquake’s center was less than 20 miles from the capital city of Port au Prince. The quake resulted in more than 220,000 deaths, an additional 300,000 injured, and it displaced approximately 15% of the total Haitian population from their homes. BCFS Health and Human Services EMD was one of the many disaster relief and medical care agencies that provided vital care in the aftermath of the earthquake. The nonprofit organization assists with disasters on a global scale, bringing mass care, medical sheltering, command infrastructure and transportation services to affected populations.
Local medical care resources were stretched thin after the earthquake. To provide urgent aid, BCFS Health and Human Services EMD sent an experienced team to Port au Prince to provide care to several local orphanages. The team’s immediate successes led to a quick reassignment at the Hospital Adventist in Carrefour, where it was sent to assist overworked staff and responders. Upon arriving at the hospital, the EMD team noted there was a dire need for command, control, and coordination within the hospital. The team realized medical care practices could be substantially improved with streamlined protocols that would increase the number of patients served while reducing strain on staff members.
The core implementation at the hospital was an incident command system (ICS) that introduced order to a chaotic situation. The team overcame multiple hurdles including language and cultural barriers to put in place a new solution by teaching local staff the principles of ICS that could help them to save lives. It also onboarded new DMST and IMT staff to help process and care for the 300 inpatients and hundreds of outpatients that required care every single day. EMD has its own Medical Sheltering Manual and Field Operations Guide for Medical Shelters and leveraged insights from both resources to aid it’s 2010 Haiti earthquake efforts.