Is the USNS MERCY being readied for Haiti deployment? Drydocking cancelled?

[/caption] After reading this blog post calling for the USNS Mercy to be activated and deployed to Haiti, I found some interesting tidbits here on a San Francisco bloggers page:  Work on the USNS Mercy, scheduled for drydock work in San Francisco, may have been cancelled and the workers at the drydock laid off.  A possible deployment to Haiti was cited as the reason.  The USNS MERCY was in drydock in Mission Bay area of San Francisco but the workers were told they were laid off until further notice. Trying to find more than just a blog post to confirm that. Here was the original dry docking proposal.]]>

USNS Comfort bloggers and Twitter messages

I’m starting to compile a list of bloggers and twitterer’s on board the USNS Comfort. USNS Comfort Twitter Account Blogs: HaitiComfort (official blog) Comfort XO US Naval Institute (the publishing arm for many Naval Press books) Baltimore Sun on-board reporter more coming… p.s. Calls are now being made for the West Coast Hospital Ship, the USNS MERCY, to be activated and sent to Haiti, so great is the need and so much stress being put on the COMFORT.]]>

Trapped and injured in an earthquake? There's an iPhone app for that

Dan Woolley was trapped under the rubble of the Haiti earthquake without much information about what to do.  He was in pain, but not sure of his overall situation.  He needed help, and believe it or not, it was just a finger slide away. His iPhone. Woolley used his iPhone as a flashlight (a totally under-appreciated function) to diagnose his foot as broken.

Then, he used the instructions from (a medical) app to treat the excessive bleeding from cuts on his legs and the back of his head.  Woolley used his shirt to tie off the three-inch gash that was opened on his leg and a sock to bandage the back of his head. He said he also looked up ways to stop from going into shock.
Woolley also used the notepad function to type out his last notes to his wife and kids, should he not make it.  But he survived and is back doing the talk show rounds this morning. On a slightly more serious note, there are several iPhone applications on sale today with the proceeds going to benefit Haiti earthquake relief.]]>

USNS COMFORT treats first patients from Haiti earthquake

[/caption] Although not technically ‘there’ yet the Comfort is now within helicopter range of Haiti and has started taking in some patients from the earthquake, according to various press sources.  Good timing too as there has just been another after-shock. The Baltimore Sun is on board and reports that the entire ship went through an Abandon Ship drill just moments before the first helicopters brought in a 20 year old male with spine problems and a 6 year old boy. The COMFORT’s Medivac Helos will be in operation today starting at 7:00 am EST.  The crew is still busy getting things ready, preparing for water rationing (to give more to patients) and to ‘hot rack’ the bunks to give more room for the wounded and a full crew.

With the addition of 350 medical and service personnel, who were expected to be in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, overnight and to begin arriving on the ship today, the Comfort will exceed its capacity of 1,200 crew members. Officers were making arrangements for crew members to share berths, a practice known as “hot-racking,” in which one person sleeps while another is on duty.

Air Force starts air drops into US-controlled Haitian LZs

[/caption] Just a few days after the Defense Secretary said that air drops of relief supplies would lead to chaos and rioting, the Air Force has apparently changed their mind and launched their first parachute delivery of supplies into Haiti.  A C-17 from Nouth Carolina did a 7-hour mission to drop MREs and bottled water into an area controlled by US troops.   Approximately 40 pallets per plane are dropped, and military officials are planning an additional 15 sorties for a total of 600 pallets in the next three days.  CBS News has video of the airdrops.]]>

Haiti airport capabilities and the complainers.

[/caption] Interesting tidbit here about the capabilities of Port au Prince airport.

Currently, we’re operating with a working maximum aircraft on the ground of one wide-body and five narrow-body aircraft. And the one wide-body is planned for two hours on the ground, and the five narrow-bodies are planned for one hour on the ground. We also have room for three smaller aircraft, and then we fit in as much as we can other aircraft that arrive that we have space for. Any aircraft that can taxi into the grass and get off the ramp that the big aircraft need to be on, we use that option.
There’s been the typical “it’s a disaster because I’m not there” claims from some aid agencies and amongst those in Europe.  Some counties have even sent large commercial aircraft, including a Chinese 747, a Dutch KC-10, an Iceland 757 and other civilian airliners to a tiny airstrip that basically has very limited loading and unloading facilities.  Other countries and aid agencies basically ignored ground controllers and crashed the line of planes, basically saying ‘we’re going to run out of fuel and crash if you don’t let us land’ thus creating even more chaos and confusion. Cargo planes that require complicated loading and unloading trucks might not be the best option in these situations.  American C-130 and C-17 aircraft are accessible directly from the ground, no “lift trucks” needed to remove and equipment can be driven off by a forklift rather than slowly disembarked by complicated machinery.  Perhaps there is a need for standardizing the airlift requirements of the Haitian airlift. For example, check out some of the guidelines that were used in the Berlin Airlift requirements:
In August, General William Tunner, a veteran of supply runs during World War II over the Hump (between India and China), arrived to direct and standardize operations to increase efficiency and safety. He discouraged flying heroics, saying that ” a successful airlift is about as glamorous as drops of water on a stone.” And the new flying regulations reflected this, leaving little room for error. Airplanes took off every three minutes, around the clock. They maintained that interval throughout the 170-mile (274-kilometers) flight, not veering an inch from the prescribed route, speed, or altitude. When they arrived in Berlin, they were allowed only one landing attempt. If they missed it, they had to transport the load back to base. When each plane landed in Berlin, the crew stayed in the plane: a snack bar on a wagon gave them food, and weathermen arrived in jeeps with weather updates. As soon as Germans unloaded the last bit of cargo, the plane would take off. Back at base, there was a 1-hour 40-minute turnaround allowed for ground crews to refuel, reload, do preflight preparations, and perform any required maintenance, which was considerable as the engines experienced rapid and excessive wear from the short flights. Tires also experienced extreme stress from the heavy loads and hard landings.
I wonder if turning Homestead ARB into a cargo redistribution center would be a better idea than having all manner of strange aircraft trying to fight their way into Port au Prince.  Have the planes of the world come to Homestead, consolidate their loads and cargos on easy to load and unload C-130s and C-17s, and then create an orderly and pattern-packed line of aircraft into and out of Haiti. It’s just a matter of time before some Airbus breaks down in Haiti and requires a special part flown in from France.  If we are serious about an air bridge, maybe we should consider standard aircraft, standard loading / unloading requirements, and standard parts and repairs to keep the flow of aid moving. Interesting end note:  the other international airport, Cap Haitien, may soon take more flights.]]>

Haiti People Finder: Technology in Chaos

Haitian earthquake disaster. This simple code allows you to have a I’m am Lost I am Found kind of solution to any website (though it is acting up a bit at the moment). Here is the code:

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    style="border: dashed 2px #77c"></iframe>
Some other interesting tech bits today: Haitian Twitter information. CrisisCamp, using technology to help those in need, are meeting in many US cities.]]>