On the way to our site, we again passed through downtown Port-au-Prince. The devastation is astounding. Block after block of collapsed buildings. Schools, malls, houses and businesses.
There are really no words or pictures that can fully describe what a catastrophe this is for this country. Just the physical damage to the infrastructure and city is unbelievable. The country truly needs a Marshall Plan-type program to rebuild. The job will be incredibly immense and take a long, long time. When you think about the human toll as well, it is overwhelming…
Despite media reports in the U.S. of lawlessness, we have not seen any crime or looting — only poverty-stricken people, who have had the incredibly terrible misfortune of suffering a catastrophic natural disaster. People are hungry and thirsty and millions are displaced with no housing. Everywhere we go, people both young and old ask us for something to eat or drink. Since we are only transporting medical supplies, we have no food to give — it is heartbreaking.
Our primary care group returned to the same site we were at yesterday and saw over 200 patients again. We have seen many earthquake victims and injuries today. Word got out that we were coming back!
We saw many people with fractures caused by collapsing buildings including a 25-year-old man injured when the factory fell around him — broke his hand in three places — one cut down to the bone. Saw multiple ankle and leg fractures including an eight-year-old boy with a fractured femur whom we were able to splint and give crutches.
We saw several children from a collapsed Catholic elementary school up the road from our make-shift clinic. For me personally, the patient that affected me the most was a 10-year-old boy, who survived the earthquake when he dove under a desk as the top two floors of the school fell around him. He was pulled from the rubble two days after the quake. He was trapped under the bodies of three of his dead classmates and a broken desk. In his classroom alone, 15 girls and 12 boys died — only five survived, including him. He lost a sister as well.
There are still dozens of bodies trapped in that rubble. Luckily, his only physical injuries were a broken foot and a broken hand, both of which will heal well, but the emotional scars… Who knows? I told his mother he was a boy who will live a long, healthy life because to survive so much, he must have a guardian angel looking out for him.
The biggest issue now is basically public health. Many people we treated today were dehydrated. There are kids who have not anything to drink in 24 hours and almost nothing to eat for two-three days. Several kids and babies needed fluid resuscitation. Witnessing a lot of communicable diseases — pneumonia, diarrhea, cellulitis — from living in overcrowded, make-shift tents made of sheets. Many respiratory ailments as it is the dry season and there is a lot of dust, debris and smoke in the air. Unfortunately, this situation will only worsen in the coming weeks and months.
We have arranged for several people to see our surgeons tomorrow. We will likely travel to another site tomorrow that has not seen a single doctor since the quake. Our work continues…