Thursday, April 22, 2010


“There is no possible way we can get into Haiti!”

That was my first response to the question posed by my contact at the Halton Emergency Medical Services immediately after the devastating January 12th earthquake hit one of the world’s poorest countries. From that moment on we worked hard to make, getting to Haiti, a priority.

Grant Rumford directs emergency medical services at the Mission Of Hope, Haiti, and on that day he was suddenly facing the biggest challenge of his paramedic life. Grant, his wife Sandra and their four children had just experienced their first earthquake – and survived. They escaped from their shaking upstairs apartment by rushing down the metal stairs at the side of the building. What would have been the end of a somewhat normal day at the mission became the beginning of endless days of medical emergencies.

Contact with Halton EMS personnel was to be expected – it’s where Grant worked until the Rumford family moved to Haiti last September. Knowing that their friend and co-worker was facing unimaginable emergency situations, their natural reaction was to find a way to assist him. When I received the call from Halton EMS, together we decided to ask Halton paramedics to indicate their interest in going to Haiti, which resulted in a greater number than we could accommodate in a “first response” team.

The team selected included ten Halton paramedics, one Peel Region paramedic, a pastor, and three doctors, counting Dr. Anthony Brown, FTC’s Medical Advisor. FTC Canada worked feverishly in an attempt to get the team to Haiti, as early responders were in short supply. In cooperation with the Canadian government (CIDA), a flight was secured out of Montreal. The team was on a bus from Guelph January 19th and departing for Haiti at 3:00AM, landing in Port-au-Prince at 8:30AM on the 20th, just hours after a significant 6.1 aftershock; we were in the heart of the disaster.

You can read blog entries from our time there but we were mostly working in middle of Port-au-Prince at the University Hospital. Out team treated hundreds of patients in pre and post-op care – broken bones, severed limbs, lacerations, punctured lungs ... the extent of which I have never seen in over 30 years of working with relief agencies.

After 8 days on the ground we departed for home on a C-17 Canadian military flight, exhausted but satisfied that we had made a difference coming to the aid of Haitians in crisis.

Back home and into the office was a world away from the disaster. It was time to get back to what we might call “normal activity”.

Ken Dick, C.A.
President, FTC Canada

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