While immediate needs are overwhelming, and long-term
prospects daunting, the first team of N.C. Baptist Men volunteers returned Jan.
22 from Haiti certain they contributed to hope.
Four members of the seven-person initial medical team
returned to the Raleigh airport still animated by adrenaline and knowing
exhaustion would hit them the next day.
Before they could gather their belongings in front of a
television camera, reporter and appreciative fellow passengers, someone stole
one of their bags off the carousel. It was clearly marked Rescue 24.
With chaos reigning in Haiti and no one in charge to
strategically assign rescue volunteers, the North Carolina team heard of a
specific need by word-of-mouth and landed in a regional hospital at the edge of
Port-au-Prince, and in the town with many injuries from a flour factory
explosion from the quake.
Tintayen was also the town that absorbed a line of trucks
dumping unidentified bodies into mass graves, and the thick, acrid odor of
death permeated the air.
“You do what you can, while you can,” said Jack Carroll, a
member of First Baptist Church, Hamlet. “We made a difference while we were
The discouraging reality is that after setting broken bones,
amputating mangled limbs and cleaning deep burns — often with only a single
aspirin as a pain killer — patients’ only aftercare was to cross the road and
lay down in the grass or dirt. There was no shelter to return to.
Even before the earthquake, Carroll said poverty is so
pervasive in Haiti that families “live under a bush, drink out of a gutter and
raise their children in the dirt.”
“Maybe they will look back and say there is love and care
and it was shown by these volunteers and it will make a difference when the
next missionary comes along,” Carroll said.
Haiti was the first large scale incident for professional
emergency medical technician Jackie Tester. After setting broken bones and
treating third-degree burns with no anesthetic she saw her patients hobble
across the street and lay down in the grass.
Everywhere people begged for help. After a 24-hour shift she
flopped beneath a tarp to rest and “heard wailing all over the city and there
was nothing we could do but pray,” she said.
“I’d go back tomorrow if they call me,” said Tester, a
member of McLeansville Baptist Church. “You don’t want to leave these people.
We have no idea what kind of pain they suffer.”
The North Carolina crew saw patients with injuries suffered
days earlier but had gone untreated. One little boy with 80 percent of his body
deeply burned had no chance to survive, but Tester treated him with dignity,
covering him with one of her shirts. Other members said if the team had stayed
another few days, Tester would have given away everything she brought.
Team member Brooks Wadsworth, who directs a group that
serves widows and orphans called BLINC, for Building Lives in Christ, was the
organizational lynch pin for the team. “It was an amazing sight to see the
number of people who were sacrificing all they could for people they didn’t
even know,” he said.
Because he worked with the supply flow he is willing to talk
with groups who want to know immediate needs in Haiti and the best way to meet
Carroll, who trained in emergency medical services
specifically so he could help in such circumstances, said these kinds of trips
always change him.
“When you get home and turn on the light, be thankful for
it,” he said. “If you have a table with four legs that stays flat and stable on
the floor, be thankful for it.”
N.C. Baptist Men are continuing to plan for long-term
response to Haitian needs. For the next few weeks only medical personnel are
required, and only money is being accepted for donations.
Donate through N.C. Baptist Men at 205 Convention Dr., Cary,
NC 27511. Mark it: Haiti relief.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — More stories and videos about work in
Disaster training opens opportunities to go
With the devastation in Haiti many people have expressed the
desire to help. One way to assist people in disaster areas is to be properly
The North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM) is offering 24
different classes this year. There are four (4) training categories:
basic, crosstrainer, recertification and advanced (more detailed description is
available at www.baptistsonmission.org). The cost varies depending on the
category of training.
Baptist Men intentionally leaves out exact locations in
order to demonstrate that disaster response requires patience, and
- Region 2 — March 5-6 in Carteret County
- Region 4 — March 19-20 in Harnett County
- Region 6 — April 16-17; location TBD
- Region 8 — May 7-8 in Lincoln County (tentative)
- Region 10 — May 21-22 in Jackson County (tentative).
Call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5599.