Anchorage based non-profit brings much needed medical aid to Haiti

Mobile Medics International provides aid in Haiti.
Mobile Medics International provides aid in Haiti.(Mobile Medics International)
Published: Aug. 22, 2021 at 2:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Desperately needed aid continues to make its way to Haiti following the devastating earthquake earlier this month. A non-profit organization based out of Anchorage is one of them.

Teresa Gray is a nurse who runs Mobile Medics International. It’s a team of medical volunteers that travel the globe, bridging the gap between the time devastation occurs and the time larger organizations are able to mobilize and provide care.

“We’re here, I want to say within 20 hours or so of the earthquake. So one of the first medical teams in, and we continue to do our medical treatments and our assessments until some of the bigger players show up,” said Gray.

She’s there with four other team members including a doctor from New York, a paramedic from North Carolina, an EMT from New Jersey and an EMT from Homer.

“We are seeing broken pelvises, we are seeing open fractures, women giving birth to babies because they can’t get to the hospital and they have no choice but to deliver at home,” said Gray. “Just a myriad of different medical emergencies.”

Gray says one of the greatest logistical challenges is getting around.

Right now, they are only able to get to small villages via helicopter. The medical volunteers have been getting rides from the Coast Guard, Army, Border Patrol and more to reach and assess the small villages for which types of help and supplies are needed to return.

“You have to have a helicopter that’s big enough for five people, and all of our medical gear, and you have to fly into the village and do the assessment, and you have to get out of the villages before dark because the helicopters don’t fly after dark,” said Gray.

Even despite the helicopters, Gray says right now, there’s really no place to take the victims.

“We will take those patients off the helicopters, and bring them into a triage area which is literally a thin foam mattress on the ground, on a tarp right outside the airport gate,” said Gray. “We lay them there, we do a quick assessment. We treat anything life-threatening and call a local ambulance. The problem is, Port Au Prince hospitals are now completely overrun with patients, and we have patients that lay there for hours and hours and hours because there’s no hospital to take them, so we effectively become a field hospital.”

Gray says the hospitals are completely out of medicine and supplies, but the people from Haiti are getting help from a myriad of outside sources.

“We had two Chinook helicopters from Puerto Rico,” said Gray. “Puerto Rico who, as you know, has had its share of disasters in the last few years that they have not recovered from. We had six orthopedic surgeons show up and two helicopters from Puerto Rico, entirely filled with medical supplies for the people of Haiti. Incredible.”

Gray and her team are expected to leave Haiti on Monday.

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