Dr. David Vanderpool posts his thoughts on the days that followed the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that claimed 316,000 lives and destroyed much of Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince.
Vanderpool, a trauma surgeon who specializes in tropical medicine for the developing world, is founder and CEO of Mobile Medical Disaster Relief. The Brentwood, Tenn., nonprofit gets supported in part by Churches of Christ. Vanderpool was one of the first on the ground after the earthquake, traveling through the neighboring Dominican Republic and setting up a hospital near the border.
We landed in Santo Domingo and rented vehicles to make the uncertain trek west to Haiti. Through a friend of a friend, we had secured an unused hospital on the border of Haiti and the D.R. but had only cryptic directions, a tourist map and a finicky GPS. As darkness fell, we began the trip over rough roads in hopelessly overloaded vehicles. Because of the excessive weight in the back, our headlights shone at a forty five degree angle upwards. This made the endless potholes unavoidable but provided a source of mirth for the locals. We found that as we passed through their villages they would laugh and cheer as we blindly hit their seemingly endless supply of speed bumps at full speed. Amazingly, the vehicles’ suspensions lasted long enough to get us to our destination. We arrived at the border hospital around 2 am which would serve as a base of operations for months to come.
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