This is the first in a series of first-hand reports from Haiti shared with WRAL News by Jim and Shirley Kelley.
Sunday Feb 21.
Plans are completed. We leave for Haiti tomorrow afternoon for a 7-day volunteer "tour" at the University of Miami Haiti Hospital (UMHH). We depart at 3:45 p.m. on a UMHH-chartered 737 from Miami International Airport.
UMHH was the first, and is the largest (240 beds) field hospital in Haiti.
You have probably seen it many times on TV, when all the cable docs, analysts etc. were giving live reports.
The hospital is located at the Port au Prince airport and can be located on googleearth.com. Key in: Port au Prince airport, then move your cursor to 18.34.35N and 72.17.07W.
The four tents shown are, from left to right: staff quarters; two medical tents with operating rooms, emergency clinic, patient wards, etc. and the supply tent.
(A lot of people think this was a "hospital in a box,” stored in a warehouse, and just waiting to be shipped to the next disaster area. Not so. It was built from scratch, from the rented party tents to the plywood flooring … plus all the supplies and equipment.)
You can also go to the U of M Web site (med.miami.edu). There you will find buttons for news and photo video. If you go to "Command center" under photo video, you will see our son Mike in the background in photos #5 and #9, broadcasting from the hospital in Haiti to the command center in Miami via closed-circuit satellite.
For the first month, Mike (our oldest son) served as chief administrative officer of UMHH. He made 3 trips to Haiti, the first one less than 48 hours after the earthquake.
When Mike told us of the opportunity to volunteer, we jumped at the chance.
Fortunately, we had driven to Florida in early January in our RV, so we had all the necessary gear - sleeping bags, hiking shoes, rain gear, passports, etc. We have spent the last day packing -- 50 pounds of dry and canned food, 12 liters of water, mosquito nets for the cots and so on. (The food and water are supplements in case there is a temporary shortage, or if the normal meals, military MREs, leave something to be desired.)
We hope to be able to make daily postings on this "pseudo blog,” and Mike – now in Miami – will forward them to all. We will not be able to receive e-mail or phone calls while in Haiti.
My first job is to be "radiation officer.” I'm bringing belt sensors for all the people who are exposed to X-rays to wear. It's kind of surprising to see this level of detail and safety established this early.
Volunteers typically work a seven day "tour,” with normal hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (We end up working until 10 almost every night.) UMHH provides food and a cot, and air transportation from Miami. No one is paid, except local workers.