Within a day of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, University Health Center Director Donna Barry was on her way there to help provide medical aid to the victims. As a member of the New Jersey 1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (NJ1DMAT), Barry is on call to be deployed at a moment’s notice wherever she and her team are needed, and the people of Haiti were clearly in need.
Barry’s team arrived in Port-au-Prince and set up their medical operation on a hill above the city. At the base of the hill, a huge tent city had sprung up and had become the temporary home of approximately 30,000 earthquake victims.
“The base of our medical operation consisted of two tents about 100 feet from the Army’s helicopter landing zone and a triage tent,” recalls Barry. “Each day, young Haitian men from the tent encampment below would climb the steep hill to volunteer as translators or carry patients back and forth. Their stamina and determination to help was inspiring.”
Although they had to contend with oppressive heat, earthquake aftershocks, no power, no running water, no existing healthcare system, and very limited supplies, Barry and her team worked around the clock, improvising as they had to, and managing to successfully treat upwards of 600 people a day during their 17-day deployment.
“We did the best we could in an extremely difficult situation and I truly believe we made a significant difference and touched the lives of many Haitian people,” she says of her experience. “I know they definitely touched my life in more ways than I have yet begun to understand.”