Reservists deliver humanitarian aid to Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- As a gray aircraft emerged from the scattered clouds ready to land on the steaming runway at Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Tabarre, near Port-au-Prince, Kathy Cadden, Operation Ukraine president and founder, looked to the sky and said, "Thank God for the U.S. Air Force!"
Cadden, who makes it known that she places God first in her life, was one of several humanitarians on hand to greet the 15 flight crew members aboard the C-17 Globemaster III. The flight crew, collectively representing the 514th Air Mobility Wing, arrived in Haiti on Oct. 11 to deliver an ambulance, medical supplies and other humanitarian aid made possible through the Denton Cargo program.
"The Denton Cargo program allows us to assist charitable organizations by working with the United States Agency for International Development and the Department of State to deliver humanitarian aid on a space-available basis on our C-17 aircraft," said Lt. Col. Mike Prodeline, 732nd Airlift Squadron evaluator pilot. "There are so many charitable organizations in the U.S. doing great things all around the world. If we can combine our training missions to deliver their donated goods, it is a win for everyone."
There is absolutely no 'I' in Denton. The program illustrates different types of organizations working together to provide resources for approved countries in need. Approved countries include those that are supported by Department of Defense transportation services, and where civil systems, local infrastructure and the supply chain will support immediate onward distribution of the commodities. Furthermore, the program shows the compassionate and humane aspect of serving in uniform as opposed to the well-known combative and warfighting component.
"In my opinion, during combat missions, we are sending equipment to our forces to take down the enemy," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Ingersoll, 88th Aerial Port Squadron team leader. "For this mission, however, we are sending equipment to help improve people's lives."
On this particular hot day, with temperatures reaching 93 degrees, Ingersoll and other flight crew members worked diligently exchanging cargo under the sweltering heat with members of HERO Client Rescue. HERO Client Rescue is the only crisis-response and risk-management company opening in Haiti. It is a professional paramedic and rescue service that will provide a 24-hour multi-lingual call center dispatch, rapid response medical services, security, ambulance transport, remote rescue and international evacuation services for individuals, corporations, governments and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Haiti.
"There are many pre-hospital needs for the country and HERO is working on a collaborative solution for some of these needs," said Jordan Owen, HERO's deputy chief operating officer. "With the support of many knowledgeable skilled technicians, businessman and medical crew members, both Haitian and American, this is a winning program."
"HERO Client Rescue is the first US standard paramedical rescue service opening in Haiti," said Philippe Arthur, HERO's public information officer and Haiti liaison "Although Haiti is open for business and travel, there is a concern among the international community regarding the country's emergency capabilities."
The latter is what prompted Englewood Hospital and Medical Center to donate a 2006 Ambulance along with assorted medical supplies, such as gloves, masks and bandages. Alden Leeds Inc. responded by contributing 2,765 gallons of high-grade disinfectant.
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center involvement in the project began when it learned of the work Steven Epstein, Alden Leeds' vice president was providing to Haiti.
Epstein has been flying helicopters and airplanes for approximately 30 years. His support to Haiti began immediately following the country's 2010 earthquake. Epstein said he sprang into action and flew his personal helicopter filled with aid supplies from New Jersey to Haiti and back three times over the following year and a half.
"Mr. Epstein told us about the difficulty in getting medical care beyond hospital walls and that some folks were starting an Emergency Medical Services program to meet that need," said Harvey Weber, director of emergency medical services at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. "That's when we were able to step in and donate an ambulance for their cause. This is truly aligned with our hospital's mission to bring high-quality humanistic care to communities in need."
The ambulance and medical supplies were shortly sent to Epstein's storage facility in Kearny, New Jersey, where the disinfectant was located. The next phase was to figure out a way to transport the entire aid to another country. This is when Epstein collaborated with Cadden and Operation Ukraine for whom he credits for being very instrumental in forwarding the necessary paperwork and contacting the proper channels to make this happen. Some of the individuals Cadden contacted were Ruben Vega, United States Embassy logistics management specialist at Port-au-Prince, and Ken Hundemer, Denton Operations operation's manager.
Having dealt with over 300 Denton flights, Vega served as the liaison between the U.S. Embassy and customs for the Denton program. Meanwhile, Hundemer reached out to his 514th AMW contacts Christine Wagoner, 514th Operations Support Squadron, and Chief Master Sgt. Juan Claudio, 732nd AS chief enlisted manager. With six to eight missions 'under his belt' to Haiti, Claudio's experience and familiarity with the country were vital to the mission.
This mission also provided an opportunity for Airmen to complete training requirements. For example, Senior Airman Gweneth Ashley Dunscomb, 35th Aerial Port Squadron load planning specialist, and Airman 1st Class Kevin Yeash, 732nd AS loadmaster, were assigned to noncommissioned officers for training and evaluation. Moving humanitarian aid allows them to perfect their skills while providing aid globally.
"I will always remember the happy looks and smiles of the people we encountered while in Haiti," said Ingersoll. "For the brief time we were there, their happiness, once they saw the equipment arrive and the joy they projected, will stay with me forever."