THE BLOG

Haiti Needs 100 Helicopters, the Miracle Workers of Disaster Relief

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

No other country can provide what is most needed right now in Haiti except the US: helicopters.

Helicopters go where there are no roads and the terrain is difficult to maneuver. But the 19 helicopters, which have just arrived, are not enough. Haiti needs 100 helicopters to save lives as these critical hours slip away.

The US military, government and private sector all have plenty of helicopters. Can Americans demand that our politicians and corporate leaders send their helicopters to Haiti as soon as possible?

There are hardly any functioning roads in Haiti right now. There is literally no administration. But the wandering injured are all over the country.

Their lives may be saved if they can quickly access medical and surgical help. But they have already started dying from non-life-threatening injuries.

When the October 8, 2005 earthquake hit Kashmir, Pakistan, I led a small team of volunteers to complete just one specific task: persuade our government to send more US helicopters to airlift aid to victims in the inaccessible disaster zone.

It was then a young first-time Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who played a critical role in getting more helicopters to Pakistan to save lives.

Helicopters were the miracle workers in Kashmir when roads and terrain did not allow aid to reach different areas.

As I see the photos coming from Haiti every morning, I sit crying in helplessness and lamenting the fact that our governments have not learned, despite years of offering worldwide disaster relief, how to save more lives quickly and efficiently.

The problem of supplying relief to Haiti is exactly similar to that of Kashmir. It is one of logistics.

All affected areas can be divided into 100 zones. Each zone can be assigned a helicopter and a surgical and medical team, which bring personnel and supplies in from the neighboring countries. They can also take the injured back to their hospitals in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Once the injured are assisted, these same helicopters will be needed to bring in supplies to the same points from sea freighters, which will start arriving there in a week. This is what Haiti needs before one can get heavy equipment to clear the roads and rebuild them.

In the case of Kashmir, Pakistan, too many lives were lost in the first critical week as not many helicopters were available.

It took several days after the earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan in 2005 for the government to show up.

It was almost a week before any aid arrived in Ache Indonesia after the 2004 Tsunami.

Let us not waste time and lose more lives in this year's first and most devastating disaster. Let us urgently push our government to help our neighbors in Haiti with efficiency and effectiveness.

Please contact your Senator and Congressperson today with just one demand: send 100 helicopters to Haiti before we lose countless more lives.