My favorite Direct Relief story is one I heard as soon as I arrived. I had been in my PULSE assignment for about a week talking to someone who works in our International Program area, and they were telling me about their work in Haiti. Direct Relief had been working in Haiti way before the earthquake hit in 2010 and they are one of the largest providers of medical material aid to Haiti. So I said, it was lucky you guys were already working there when the earthquake hit so you could help out right away. The response was, “it wasn’t luck, we were prepared.” Puzzled, I asked for more of an explanation.
That’s when I learned about Direct Relief’s Hurricane Preparedness Program. In advance of hurricane season in 2010, Direct Relief sent some of their Haiti partners Hurricane Prep Packs that contained medicines and supplies to treat up to 5,000 people for one month. Having the prep packs there before a hurricane strikes means that the facilities can care for their patients in the event of a hurricane and they don’t have to wait for additional shipments. It turned out that there was no need to use the prep packs during hurricane season in 2010 so they were still on hand when the earthquake hit and the facilities were able to treat patients in the immediate hours after the earthquake struck. And while many organizations were trying to get supplies in to Haiti, Direct Relief was already there and providing assistance.
This brings me to today and Hurricane Isaac. Isaac has become a Category 1 Hurricane and it is heading for the Gulf Coast. New Orleans is right in its path and it reminds me of 7 years ago when my cousin and I were packing me up to move from Houston back to Philly to start my new job at GSK and I was watching Katrina follow the same path. Back then Direct Relief wasn’t doing as much work in the US as they are now, but today I know they have prepared their partners in the Gulf Coast.
While no one can stop a hurricane from coming, being prepared is the best thing when a hurricane strikes. Back in the beginning of June, Direct Relief sent out Hurricane Prep Packs to their partners in the Gulf Coast, not knowing if and when a hurricane would strike. Now we can see that they were right on the money. This map shows the location of the facilities who received Direct Relief’s Hurricane Prep Packs and the path of Hurricane Isaac. There are a number of facilities ready to respond to their patient’s needs immediately when Isaac makes landfall. They won’t be lucky to have the supplies to treat their patients, they will be prepared.