Dr. Paul Auerbach is the author of the definitive textbook on Wilderness Medicine. Though he’s spent his entire emergency medicine career teaching others how to survive in the wild, even that didn’t fully prepare him for the extraordinary devastation in Haiti. He’d never seen anything like it. He hopes he never does again.
In an exclusive Skype interview with Better Health, Paul describes what it was like “on the ground” during the first week of the disaster. He goes on to explain (in part 2 below) what the current critical needs are, and which organizations and websites volunteers should go to in order to contribute in a coordinated fashion.
Dr. Val: Do you need supplies?
Dr. Auerbach: We have lots of medications, vaccines, and small supplies. What we need most is a large autoclave to sterilize used OR equipment.
Dr. Val: What kind of personnel do you need?
Dr. Auerbach: We don’t need any more general surgeons at this point. People have either had life-saving surgery or they’ve died. The next phase will require a lot of reconstruction and wound revisions. We need plastic surgeons, and specialists like orthopedists and maxillofacial surgeons. And in the coming months, primary care physicians and nurses will be critical to establishing care for people outside the hospitals. We need lots of support staff to meet the general medical needs of the country. And of course, Haiti needs financial support.
Dr. Val: Where should interested volunteers go to coordinate their efforts for Haiti?
**For more reporting from Dr. Auerbach, please check out his blog at Healthline.com**