In 2010, a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti. It hit just 16 miles from the heavily populated capital Port au Prince and devastated the impoverished country. The earthquake resulted in an estimated 220,000 lost lives, injured an additional 300,000 and displaced approximately 15% of the country’s inhabitants – nearly 1.5 million who no longer had a home. A global relief effort descended to Haiti to help the country survive the aftermath and put it on a path to rebuilding. BCFS Health and Human Services EMD, a nonprofit leader in emergency management, was an integral part of the humanitarian response. The organization offers an array of services including medical sheltering, mass care, and displacement capabilities for affected people around the world. It partners with all levels of government and works with private industry groups to help save lives and help local populations resume their normal lives.
The devastation in Haiti pushed local medical care resources to the limit. BCFS Health and Human Services EMD brought in an experienced team to offer medical care for Port au Prince-area orphanages. The successful efforts of the team meant it was quickly reassigned to the Hospital Adventist in nearby Carrefour. Upon arrival the team discovered the local medical workers were doing the best they could but were overworked and exhausted. The hospital needed command, control, and coordination to streamline care and make the entire system more productive.
The team tackled the problem with the field-proven incident command system (ICS) that transitioned the hospital from an operation in chaos to a more disciplined operation. Both the BCFS Health and Human Services EMD team and the hardworking locals overcame language and cultural barriers and worked through other challenges to implement new procedures to handle patients more effectively. Additional DMST and IMT staff were brought on board to manage a surge of 300 inpatients and the hundreds of outpatients that were seen at the hospital every day. The success of this operation was largely due to this coordination and the team’s usage of medical sheltering and field operations best practices it had learned from various other global engagements.