Topic: In the News
Now even the medical assistance that is pouring in to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina has been delayed for several days from reaching the people desperate for help and all because of red tape. The Americans have a marvellous state-of-the-art mobile emergency treatment facility called Carolinas MED-1. Designed to be used in the event of disasters and to cope with mass casualties, it is the first of its kind and was funded by a grant from the US Department of Homeland Security. It has room for 113 beds and is equipped with ultrasound, digital radiology and satellite Internet. It also has a full pharmacy, enabling doctors to do most types of surgery in the field, including open-chest and abdominal operations - it must be the envy of the entire world. But the facility and its 100 health professionals has been parked on a gravel lot 70 miles north of New Orleans because Louisiana officials would not let them deploy to the flooded city. Other doctors are complaining that their help is being turned away.
In New Orleans, it seems that some of the emergency workers have been so traumatised by what they have witnessed that at least two of them have committed suicide. And there are no hospitals available to give them help or counselling.
The British Foreign Office is also being criticised for failing to help British survivors. However, Foreign Office staff had not been allowed into the affected areas as the agreement of the Louisiana governor was required and had not been given! Strangely enough, the world press does not seem to have encountered problems gaining access to the Superdome and reporting on the conditions there. Talking of the press, I know many people have been critical of the way they 'prey on the unfortunate'. Why didn't they help to rescue people and drop supplies instead of filming desperate survivors? Well, it's like comparing a small mini car with a giant pantechnicon - there is just no room in a tiny helicopter. And the press have done an important job in alerting the rest of the world to the dreadful conditions in New Orleans thereby eliciting many offers of international aid, even from some of the USA's erstwhile enemies. Journalists are not exempt from compassion and I am sure that many of them shared their own personal supplies and alerted the authorities to the plight of individuals.
If you want to make a donation for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, you can do so via Direct Relief International or through the American Red Cross.