Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti Airlift = Berlin Airlift Redux+++ 

From the ground in Haiti comes a personal report available at Jerry Pournelle's site (you must scroll to the bottom of the January 22 posts to find it in total). The media coverage has focused on the negatives (as too often they do) and ignored the yeoman efforts behind the scenes.

Prior to the Haiti disaster, the largest and most incredibly successful humanitarian effort in the world's history to supply the fundamental needs of food, fuel and clothing to a large population under enemy siege was the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49((available here).

To summarize that program, consider that the airlift: coordinated 300,000 flights on three (3) runways over a span of 330 days; delivered 6,000,000,000 pounds of supplies to about 2,000,000 West Berliners . The grid here shows the mind-boggling logistics. No room for error.

In Haiti, the US military took control of the SINGLE runway in the airport in Port au Prince. (The UN manages the city but the US military controls the air space - thankfully.) This P au P airfield typically sees 5-15 flights a day. Now the US military is coordinating 280 flights a day, round the clock. That is 1 flight every 5 minutes.

Now consider the Haiti situation: population of 3,500,000; over 30 "hospitals" but only 3 had more than 100 beds; total beds: around 1600 beds, BEFORE the earthquake struck. There are an estimated 250,000 injuries to be treated. A fourth grader could look at this arithmetic and realize there's a problem.

The pleas for orthopedic surgeons and medical personnel are being addressed as many doctors are voluntarily going to Haiti to help. However, the real need is for more beds, medical supplies, and operating rooms.

What's being done? In addition to the thousands of volunteers, USNS Comfort ship arrived on the 22nd (just as navy ships sailed to SE Asia after the typhoons of a few years ago). The ship is a floating hospital with 1000 patient beds, 80 intensive care beds, 950 naval hospital staff and 12 operating rooms.

The Israelies sent help at the first notice of the earthquake. Withing eight hours, they had set up a state-of-the-art hospital, on the ground. Their experience in rescuing victims of terrorism and war is being used extensively in Haiti. (Does not appear that any of their enemies are helping....)

The Canadian expeditionary force chose to focus its efforts in Jacmel and expect to have a functioning field hospital operating by this Friday.

As mentioned above, the base need is for supplies. You can go here or here or here to donate.

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