Within two hours of the earthquake in Haiti, pilots were asking about conditions for flying. The very next morning, general aviation began relief efforts. Companies such as Hop-A-Jet provided transport for the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital, and their relief efforts, called Medisharle, resulted in getting a tent hospital to Haiti, as well as transporting numerous doctors.
The generosity of private aircraft owners and corporate operators is a true symbol of the American spirit, always willing to help those in need, even in the midst of today’s challenging economic times. Aircraft owners were willing to donate their aircraft, personnel, crews, and their time to help. Since there is no airline service, and large air crafts are only able to use Port Au Price because of the runway length, the smaller air crafts flew to the rescue.
CARE’s network of aviation specialists assisted as first responders to the catastrophe. Robin Eissler, who has numerous connections with many organizations such as NBAA, the Military, State Department, and the United Nations was the initial contact for aircraft, groups, and flight requests to Haiti from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Robin called Sean Anthony at Windsor Jet Management to handle cargo being assembled for Haiti, and then called Banyan Air Service to ask if they could handle the ground support and people. She also called JSSI Jet Support to assist with ground handling and coordination.
Many Banyan air crafts then flew to Haiti, assisting non profit organizations, and transporting supplies. With each day, more items have been delegated such as flight plans and customs information. CARE assigned people as base coordinators for the different Haiti airports, as well as a base coordinator in the U.S. There are base coordinators assigned to the following areas and airports: Leogane Road, Cap Hatien, Jecmal, Port de Paix, Santiago and Santa Domingo.
Red Cross International also set up a receiving area in Banyan’s hangar to welcome and help citizens returning from Haiti. They are still meeting with orphans brought in to help them connect with their new families. The Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) is also playing a huge role in bringing supplies and personnel to Haiti. United States Customs at FXE responded to the crisis by staying open 24 hours a day.
So far, 72 air crafts and crews have been donated for flights, 275 flights have taken place, 1,240 of passengers have been moved, 255,000 lbs of cargo have been transported, and around 15 orphans have been transported.
One example of an injured victim success story was when a 12-year-old girl named Yadissa was going into town with $7 in her pocket to buy food for her family. She was accidentally hit by a vehicle, which crushed her pelvis. She was then brought to FXE and transported to a Broward General Hospital, and is now under supervision.
Hopefully in these tough times, we continue to see such positive efforts to help those suffering in Haiti from such a tragic earthquake. It may take years to recover, but the fact that we have began to work hard at it proves a promising and hopeful future for everyone involved.