I like to run. It keeps me grounded, fit and sane. I also like to go to different places to run. There is nothing like waking up in a new city and going for a run. I get to sightsee and that sense of wonder about a new place.
So I was excited to go to Corning, New York to run the Wineglass Half Marathon. Corning is set in the beautiful Finger Lakes area and the run goes from point to point through fall colours. Everyone that runs it raves about it and the Corning Museum. I was stoked to be going.
Then I got another email. GlobalMedic (an incredibly valuable non- governmental disaster relief organization) was calling out a team to support relief efforts in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.
It has been about 6 weeks since Hurricane Dorian devastated the Northern Islands of the Bahamas. Relief efforts are now underway but additional support was needed for aerial mapping to support the rebuilding efforts.
A year ago, I started volunteering for GlobalMedic. I had heard about them after watching tv interviews about the work they were doing in Nepal after the earthquake.
GlobalMedic is one of the first disaster relief units on-site anywhere in the world. Their administrative costs are low and they focus on getting things done.
I volunteered and helped out in the warehouse. I also took the on-line Disaster Readiness training that is required for all members of the Rapid Deployment Teams for GlobalMedic. It was over 30 hours of training on working and contributing to disaster relief operations.
GlobalMedic also runs another on-site course to train all Rapid Deployment Team members on procedures and equipment operations. When all of that training is completed, you are seconded to the Rapid Deployment Teams and are on standby in the event of a disaster.
On the weekend, I received an e-mail that a RescueUAV team was being deployed to the Bahamas to join the Water and Food teams already working in the areas affected by Hurricane Dorian. RescueUAV is a GlobalMedic program that uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) to quickly and accurately create photographic imagery and ortho mosaic maps of damaged areas.
After I responded with my availability to the email on Sunday, I was called on Monday to discuss deployment and then on Tuesday was notified that I would fly to Freeport on Friday for a 3-week assignment as ground crew for the RescueUAV mission.
It has always been on my bucket list to assist in disaster relief. I would watch on television and wish that there was something I could do to directly help those people who were affected by these natural disasters. I would contribute financially but I wanted to be there. Working with GlobalMedic provided me with that opportunity.
It’s essential that you work with a recognized relief agency that operates in a professional manner. Often people just show up in a disaster area wanting to help, but they just get in the way. Partly it is a desire to help and partly a chance to view the devastation as an onlooker. This has been called “Disaster Tourism” and it is a serious problem. Unprepared do-gooders who arrive may wind up needing to be taken care of and consequently diverting resources away from the local population.
What do you pack for a disaster zone (self sufficiency)?
The first time, I’m told, you always overpack. “Hmmmm, I know I packed a rain poncho but maybe I should take an extra, lightweight one. I waaaay overpacked!
3 sets of sock’s & underwear (you wash a lot)
2 pair of pants
2 pair of closed-toed shoes
2 pair of shorts
Small bag of toiletries
Biodegradable Toilet Paper
Swiss Army knife
If you are me…
Spark drone, controller and charger
Image stabilizer (video)
Camera & lens
Batteries, cords chargers and cables
Sound reducing headphones
I seriously overpacked but that is part of the learning process.
In addition to the RescueUAV program, there are teams here distributing water and food kits. (Family Emergency Kit’s are shown above).
I gave up a race – these people are running for their lives.
Support GlobalMedic by donating with the link below:
You can also use that link for volunteering