The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a 7.0 magnitude event that devastated the country. It resulted in more than 220,000 deaths, 300,000 injured, and 1.5 million displaced people whose homes were destroyed or uninhabitable. Relief agencies responding to the disaster were faced with multiple roadblocks and a mounting health crisis. BCFS Health and Human Services EMD, a nonprofit organization with considerable medical sheltering experience, arrived in Haiti to provide medical care and strategic direction. The organization’s capabilities extend beyond medical services and include command infrastructure, mass care, transportation services, and incident management that are available at a moment’s notice to address disasters on a global scale.
BCFS Health and Human Services EMD responded by sending an expert team to care for affected children and staff at Port au Prince-area orphanages. The group’s efforts were quickly shared by other local organizations, and they were reassigned to the Hospital Adventist in Carrefour. The team noted the hospital’s local staff were working towards exhaustion within a chaotic system, so their first step was instituting a command, control and coordination structure. This helped responders who were performing their best by giving them structured assignments that could help them aid more patients while avoiding complete exhaustion.
An incident command system (ICS) was put in place by EMD staff who also trained the local medical teams to turn the hospital into a streamlined operation that benefitted everyone involved. New DMST and IMT staff were also onboarded to manage a surge of more than 300 inpatients and hundreds of outpatients. All these efforts were informed by the organization’s Medical Sheltering Manual and Field Operations Guide for Medical Shelters, which contain best practices and key insights gleaned from years of experience helping manage disasters around the world.