FEATURED IN LEADERSHIP
Editor s note: This e-mail was sent during the initial days of the response to Haiti following the earthquake. It has been minimally edited and is as raw as you would expect from such a dispatch. For more from Haiti, visit www.LawOfficer.com. The author requests that donations be made to www.convoyofhope.org.
Finally got some Internet. Pretty hot here all around. I've been running security for the feeding station provided five days food for 4,500 people in the last two days, and ran a medical team out of the same location
Focus on my end is 100% crowd management those arriving are desperate for food and water. The injured are more patient.
Have had good luck thus far with six locals I literally hired off the street. No security experience at all just big, physical, fluent in English and Creole, and willing/able to do what I tell them. Several fights [have occurred] in the food lines, which are run in a 12-foot steel gate, 10 people at a time who are then escorted to the food distribution point.
The key issue here as in other parts of the world is communicating with the crowd, keeping them updated on the food status (to avoid a slamming of the door, We re out bye!), constantly telling them we will shut the line down if violence occurs, begging for their patience and cooperation, etc. Amazing how most will cooperate in even such dire straights many with a smile and thanks/handshake as they come in. But best to go after those causing trouble quickly, because allowing such behavior tends to generate more of it.
Hundreds run through the medical effort with Canadian docs. Good folks all. Unfortunately, many seen have little chance of ultimate survival after they leave us, since we are unable to do any surgery (setting limbs, punctured lungs, etc.) in our environment. Almost no fuel (generators, vehicles) or running water all of us filthy and unable to clean ourselves absent baby wipe baths.
Lots of gunfire and unrest at night in some areas. We're staying in a missionary s home that survived the quake, and he and his wife are most gracious hosts for 13 of us. The balance of the team is staying at the warehouse.
Yesterday morning we drove up on two bound and executed young men, laying face down in the street. Told by my local security help this was score settling during the general chaos, not quake related (e.g., looting). Most bodies removed from plain view, though some caught in precarious locations still are prominently displayed in rubble heaps. Large mass graves are in operation west of the city, with dump trucks filled with bodies (loaded by U.N. soldiers and some civilians) being driven through town.
All fuel is being stopped at the Dominican border, except what the U.N. and U.S. have at the airport. Unbelievable that the Dominican Republic officials won't let fuel come across, which is all that stands between my group and additional mass food distribution. We have more than 500,000 meals on-hand at a secure warehouse 20 miles from town, but are unable to run the trucks due to lack of diesel. Likewise, the security situation is such that you would be in grave danger if you just showed up in a devastated neighborhood with a truckload of food and began handing it out.
The local police are ghosts, and the only sign of security is the U.N. driving around in APCs, showing little interest in things you or I might check into like bound dead men in the road. We stopped to check on the young men, and talked with the kids surrounding them. Several military rigs rolled by (none U.S.) and gawked, but none de-bussed.
More to follow and wish you were here ...