Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort

25 01 2010

I have written a couple of times about the Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort.  The option offered below for businesses is unique in the sense that it involves a technology product that the Houston Urban Area is utilizing to help our area prepare for the next disaster.  Recently, our region purchased a technology called “i-INFO” to help us manage resources during a catastrophe.   

i-INFO Networks in other parts of the United States have formed a network to assist those in Haiti— in a manner that is appropriate to the need.  The World Cares Center in New York City, a member of the National Business Reponse Network, is deploying a team to Haiti to setup a resource and volunteer coordination center to assist int he relief and recovery effort.    The National Business Response Network is working with US Northern Command in this relief effort.  The team should be established this week, and once set up, with the help of other Business Response Network members providing satellite phones and other key equipment, the team will be in a position to communicate directly from the center in Haiti.

It is important that the donations from citizens and businesses fit the needs of the victims— it would be counterproductive to send items that are of no use to those suffering.  The Center will provide a mechanism for knowing exactly what is needed.  So, today, I have two suggestions for those citizens and businesses that want to contribute to the relief effort:

Citizens:

Citizens are urged to donate money to relief organizations. This ensure that the most appropriate type of aid gets to the victims as quickly as possible.  Donating to the American Red Cross, is a simple way for citizens to donate and to make sure that the money is being put to good use.  The Fort Bend County OEM coordinates with the Red Cross locally during disasters which affect Fort Bend County, and you can donate to the Red Cross to send more relief to Haiti.

Businesses:

Businesses are also urged to donate to the Red Cross, but can also offer supplies to be sent directly to Haiti. A registry is available at http://registry.i-info.com/haiti and is intended to collect in-kind resources from any organization that is willing to donate these critically needed items. If you don’t have anything to donate on the list, you can register for updates to the registry.

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Texas Task Force-1 Not Traveling to Haiti

18 01 2010

As printed in the Houston Chronicle on January 18, 2010:

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — An elite search and rescue team from Texas will not fly to earthquake-devastated Haiti and has been demobilized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  The Texas Engineering Extension Service in College Station on Monday said the United Nations mission in Haiti has declared that search and rescue teams in the country are sufficient.

Texas Task Force One was called up by Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday, two days after a massive earthquake rocked the Port-au-Prince area. The urban search and rescue team from Texas, with about 80 personnel, plus search dogs, had been on standby in Houston since then.  Flights in and out of Haiti’s capital city airport, which suffered damage, have been limited, with commercial service halted to clear the way for military and other recovery flights.





Teaching Kids About Helping Others….

16 01 2010

An emergency management colleague sent me the item below.  Cute story; great parenting; and a fairly powerful message about teaching kids about helping others.  Reminds me of how important it is to teach children how and why to do the right thing; not only so they do the right thing as they mature, but also perhaps to teach others, including other adults.  Character building can take place anytime.  As my colleague relates the story:

     “I purposely decided to call my girls in to watch the news coverage of Haiti last night (they are 5 and 6).  I then explained about earthquakes (I grew up in San Francisco so I know this stuff but they have never experienced one in Brooklyn) and took that into another reason why it is so important that we prepare, practice our evacuation routes from the house, check our go bags from time to time, etc.  A teachable moment as they say.”

     “We then moved into what we can do for all the people especially children.  Draw them happy cards was the first suggestion.  Ok, I’ll do something with that effort.  Then send toys was next – um NO was my answer given I had to sign for about 15,000 of those when they arrived in NYC after 9/11.  Money.  Hum – so off they went to gather pennies from their secret hiding places (I didn’t tell them that I know where they stash their change but the Tooth Fairy is still real too).  Another teachable moment.”

      “After breakfast this morning my youngest was stacking canned food in the hallway.  I asked what she was doing.  She told me she took them out of the family emergency bag in the front closet “because it is an emergency in Haiti and that is what this food is supposed to be for, right” she asked.  Right I said.  A teachable moment for me as an emergency manager and mom.” 

Years ago, I was in charge of initiating a curbside recycling program in a small city in Pennsylvania.  Everything started out pretty well, but things really improved when we started getting recycling information into the schools.   When small children went home and chastised their parents or siblings for not putting the plastic bottle or newspaper in the recycling bin, it seemed like collection rates for recyclables started increasing.   As with recycling, I think many of us in the emergency management profession believe that if kids start talking to their parents about family emergency plan or emergency preparedness kit, more and more people will start taking steps to better prepare for disasters.  

Hopefully we will all adopt the approach of my colleague and spend the time to find “teachable moments” with our children.

 





For People Seeking To Restore Contacts with Family Members After the Earthquake in Haiti

15 01 2010

Here is some information that might be helpful for those looking for relatives in Haiti.    The Family Links program is operated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  Review the information carefully; there are some important caveats about the Family Links program.  On its website, the ICRC indicates that:

As a result of the earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January 2010, thousands of persons within Haiti and abroad have lost contact with their loved ones.  The aim of the Family Links website is to accelerate the process of restoring contact between separated family members.

It is managed by the ICRC, in cooperation with the tracing services of the Haitian Red Cross Society and of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies throughout the world.  The website offers the possibility for persons in Haiti and abroad to publish their own names and the names of relatives with whom they are striving to restore contact.

In Haiti, the Red Cross has not been able yet to collect and publish on the Website the identities and whereabouts of the persons affected by the earthquake. Nevertheless, with the current reinforcement of their activities, the ICRC, together with the Haitian Red Cross, will add on the Website more information on the affected population in Haiti. This will provide more responses to the queries of anxious families who remain without news from their loved ones.

Entries published on the lists can be modified only by the ICRC at op_prot_haiti.gva@icrc.org. If you want to modify details for a name that you entered or delete a name completely, you must email the ICRC.  If your search is not successful, do not hesitate to revisit the website frequently, as everyday, new people are registering themselves.   To locate your relatives go to the following link:

http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/WFL_HTI.NSF/DocIndex/locate_eng?opendocument

IMPORTANT
The ICRC has no means of verifying the information sent through the network. It is not responsible for any inaccurate information given through the services made available on this site.

The information given on this website is not confidential and can be consulted by everyone. It is the responsibility of the persons publishing information on this website to ensure that no harm can result from this publication. The ICRC cannot be held responsible for any negative consequences of publishing information on this website.





Governor Perry Offers More Disaster Response Assistance to Haiti from Texas

14 01 2010

News Release from the Office of the Governor, State of Texas is provided below.  This was released on January 14, 2010.  In the release, the Governor speaks to his decision to send search and rescue personnel to Haiti.  He also sent a letter to President Obama offering additional resources and support.

 
AUSTIN – Governor.Rick Perry today sent Texas Task Force One, the state’s elite search and rescue team, to provide assistance in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti. He also sent a letter to President Barack Obama offering additional state disaster response resources to assist emergency response teams, rescue workers and medical personnel. Since the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is leading and coordinating the U.S. response effort to this disaster, Texas must receive federal authorization before state resources can be deployed.http://www.usaid.gov/

“In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Texas is standing by to deliver much needed assistance and supplies to the victims of this disaster,” Governor Perry said. “Already this morning a team of brave men and women from Texas Task Force One departed for Haiti to provide vital search and rescue assistance. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, rescue personnel and medical workers in Haiti as they continue to cope with the aftermath of this quake.”

Texas Task Force One is capable of responding to mass-casualty disasters and is trained and equipped to locate and rescue people trapped by collapsed structures in confined space in highly populated areas.

Additional state resources available for deployment include:

Medical Personnel:
·    Medical Assessment and Coordination Team with 4 personnel from Texas A&M/University of Texas
·    TxMAT (Texas Medical Assistance Team) – 2 teams – 7 personnel each; one from TX A&M and one from Angel Staffing – 1 physician, 2 nurses, 2 paramedics, 1 respiratory care
·    Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Command Assistance Team (1 team of 7 – 10 personnel) – from DSHS central and regional staff; incident management team
·    Community Assessment Public Emergency Response Team (CASPER) 3-5 person team to augment U.S. Public Health Service

Medical Supplies:
·    40 shelter push packs – support 100 people for three days with over-the-counter medications and other shelter supplies
·    40 shelter supply augmentation kits for infection control focused on preventing infectious disease, including gloves, masks, sanitizers, etc.

Medical Equipment:
·    2 mortuary refrigerated trailers with body bags and supplies

Baptist Child and Family Services: San Antonio (Shelter Medical):
·    Two 500 bed shelters including tents
·    70 staff for Incident Management Team
·    60 kilowatt generators
·    Medical staff (nurses and paramedics)
·    Communications package for satellite and local radios 

Texas Baptist Men:
·    Water purification equipment and personnel capable of providing drinking water for 65,000 people.    
 
Texas Military Forces Aircraft:
·    Two C-130s capable of transporting large quantities of equipment, supplies and personnel

TX A&M (Boat):
·    600 foot boat capable of housing responders

Search and Rescue: Texas Task Force One – TX A&M (already approved by federal government for deployment):
·    Highly trained urban search and rescue team
·    80 personnel
·    Search and rescue, K-9, logistics, communications and medical capabilities

Search and Rescue: Texas Task Force Two – DFW Area:
·    Highly trained personnel to augment Texas Task Force One
·    Conduct search of small structures

Texas-related volunteer organizations providing financial and other assistance in response to this disaster include The Salvation Army, Victim Relief Ministers, Billy Graham Ministries, Texas Baptist Men Disaster Relief, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, American Red Cross, and Baptist Child and Family Services.

For additional information on the response effort and situation in Haiti, please visit





Haitian Earthquake Relief Fraud Alert

14 01 2010

In a News Release from FEMA today, the FBI reminds Internet users who receive appeals to donate money in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before responding to those requests. Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause.

Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, to include the following:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
  • Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status rather than following a purported link to the site.
  • Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf to ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Anyone who has received an e-mail referencing the above information or anyone who may have been a victim of this or a similar incident should notify the IC3 via www.ic3.gov. For further information, please visit the FBI’s Web site: http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel10/earthquake011310.htm





Work Begins on New EMS Building in Rosenberg

14 01 2010

The article below was written by Don Munsch and appeared in the January 13, 2010 edition of the Fort Bend Herald.

Ground work is in progress on the new county Emergency Medical Service building on Highway 36 in Rosenberg.  The building, which will have just under 15,000 square feet, will be constructed behind the current building.  “We will have our own training classroom in there, which this building had originally, but as we continued to expand, that (space) was taken up by the billing office, and our training has been done off-site,” said Daniel Kosler, director of Emergency Medical Service for Fort Bend County.

With the new building, EMS will be able to house all of its vehicles, including its regional response trailers. EMS administrative offices will be in the new building once the construction is done.  “Pretty much what we have here will be just moving over there, except for the billing office,” Kosler said. “The billing (department) is a part of the treasurer’s office now, so they will stay here until the justice complex is completed and that will free up room in the William B. Travis Building. At that time, it’s my understanding that there’s plans to move the billing office there.”

Kosler said once the building phase of the EMS project begins, it will be finished in eight months. He anticipates it will be completed in August or September.  “We’re ecstatic,” he said about moving into a new building. “Right now we have some people sharing offices, which were originally meant for one person. We’re ecstatic about being in a building that is safe. I’ve been told by a county engineer that’s no longer with the county that our gas canopy out here (behind the EMS building) is wind-rated higher than this building. So we will feel safe in that building. We won’t have to be concerned about relocating the staff during times of a potential hurricane strike.

 “We’re looking forward to this new facility,” he said. “It’s going to allow us to hold the medical supply inventory that’s currently housed out back here in a separate building. All of that will be under one roof.” 

The new building will have four dorm rooms, a conference room, offices and classrooms, among other rooms. The building will have bays for vehicles and storage space for the medical supplies.  “It’s our understanding that, at this point anyway, this building would then be lowered or destroyed and an additional parking would be here,” he said. “But anything could change between now and then.”

The current building was constructed in 1985.  “It’s lasted us 24 years,” Kosler said. “Hopefully this one will last us a lot longer.