NYC Medics is an international disaster-relief organization formed in 2005 following the response of a group of 13 paramedics and physicians to the South Asian earthquake. This earthquake killed more than 80,000 people and left four million homeless throughout northern Pakistan and Kashmir. Realizing there was a need after large disasters for small, mobile medical teams to reach areas larger relief organizations couldn't, we formed NYC Medics. When the Haiti earthquake struck, we were ready.
Each of our teams consists of physicians, physician assistants, paramedics, nurses and a public health specialist. These teams are prepared to be fully self-sufficient, carrying their own food, water and shelter, as well as all the medical and surgical equipment required to provide outpatient emergency medical care for up to 500 people a day for 10 days. They travel directly to areas that have not seen any care or relief, and get there by any means necessary: airplanes, helicopters, vehicles, foot or even mules.
Upon their arrival in Haiti, within five days of the earthquake, NYC Medics' first teams bypassed the places where large-scale aid was already gathering and headed to the places where aid might take longest to arrive. Our advanced assessment team assembled within hours to determine how NYC Medics could be of most assistance. A team of trauma surgeons and anesthesiologists deployed to a hospital north of Port-au-Prince that was still standing, but had received little support. The hospital had been flooded with patients who had managed to escape the capital. They operated every day for 16 to 20 hours straight.
A second team established a mobile medical clinic in Cite Soleil, the poorest slum in Port-au-Prince and one of the largest in the Western Hemisphere, where they continue to see 400 to 600 patients daily. Working in coordination with the United Nations' cluster system (a system for grouping U.N. agencies, nongovernmental organizations and other international organizations around a sector or service provided during a humanitarian crisis), NYC Medics is implementing mass vaccination campaigns in Cite Soleil.
Additional teams have been deployed to Jimani, on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border, where a refugee camp has developed.
Thousands of donors and supporters have allowed NYC Medics to deliver care on the ground in Haiti directly to those who need it. We are continuing to rotate teams through Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas and need your help to continue our work. Please visit our website, www.nycmedics.org, for updates and information on how to volunteer or donate.
Sean Kivlehan is a member of NYC Medics and has deployed on missions to Haiti and Pakistan. Sean M. Kivlehan, MD, MPH, NREMT-P, is an emergency medicine resident at the University of California San Francisco and a former New York City paramedic for 10 years. Contact him at email@example.com.