Quick, with the help of CBS News team, successfully delivered an urgently needed supply of blood to Haiti in under 20 hours, despite the many logistical challenges.
Just a day after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we were contacted by the American Red Cross who needed emergency logistics assistance to transport donor blood to the survivors. At the same time, we received a call from CBS News who needed to transport their staff and equipment into Port au Prince. What followed was an example of synchronized logistics and cooperation that allowed for the safe delivery of donor blood to the region.
A victim is carried into the Hospital Universitaire de la Paix in Port-au-Prince, where
the blood is desperately needed Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010 (source: MSNBC)
Natural disasters of such magnitude, especially in isolated areas, always present exceptional challenges for recovery missions. The earthquake caused problems with communications and air traffic control at the Port-au-Prince airport. The airport was reopened to emergency flights but was quickly overloaded.
For that reason, we had to charter planes to the nearest available airport - Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, which has been used as the back up staging area and was also being heavily overloaded. Delivery of perishables, in this case blood, is always threatened in such conditions, as it needs to remain at a certain temperature to be viable. We were investigating every possible mode of transportation to get the shipment to the Haiti hospitals as soon as possible.
Delivery by land was quickly out of the question due to security issues. Plus, we simply did not know whether Port-au-Prince was accessible, or how extensive the damage was to the roads and bridges. We also feared that using boats may take too long, possibly compromising the integrity of the shipment.
Delivery by air was our best option, but presented a challenge since many of the available charter planes were already involved in the relief efforts. Others were not able to fly to the disaster area due to the local communication issues, air traffic issues, and fuel shortages.
We were already in the process of chartering a plane for CBS News to Santo Domingo. With the overloaded airports, the best solution was to send the crew and the shipment of blood on the same aircraft. We asked CBS News if they would be willing to carry four boxes of blood to Haiti, and, of course, they agreed.
We charted a plane to deliver the blood from the American Red Cross' New England Blood Region facility in Dedham. The other charted plane with CBS Crew was waiting at the airport in New Jersey for the blood shipment. We literally landed the plane with the blood shipment next to the one with the CBS News team and ran the packages over.
It was a close call, but fortunately, we managed to deliver the blood to Haiti in under 20 hours. It was retrieved by the UN personnel who delivered it to the hospital in Port-au-Prince.
My sincere thanks to everyone who improvised to move the blood safely from point to point until it safely reached the hospital.