Dr. Ched Singleton, a general surgeon, said Friday morning that he was still waiting for the final OK before heading out.
Dr. Gary Fisher (director of Church and Faith Relations for BHS) was coordinating the trip, but as Singleton explained, “We’re still waiting for the final OK. Apparently there are only so many planes flying into Haiti right now, and there is no security. People are having a hard time getting in and out. I know FEMA is handling some of the flights, but I don’t know about any other aid agencies. But right now we’re kind of in limbo.”
Singleton’s partner, Dr. Manuel Caceres, had already scheduled surgeries, but planned to go to Haiti after Singleton returned. Family practitioner and emergency care specialist Robert Storey and gynecologist Rosa Flores are also planning to make the trip and donate their service to the quake victims.
But e-mails provided by Singleton’s office between Fisher and State Missionary Disaster Relief and Construction Coordinator for the Alabama Baptist Convention’s State Board of Missions Mel Johnson indicate that might not be any time soon.
“We know that we will not be sending in volunteers until we can be assured of adequate safety and support,” Johnson wrote. “We were informed that the (U.S.) State Department has temporarily suspended flights entering Haiti due to rising civil unrest. I am told that we will not be moving our volunteer resources forward until authorities secure the area. We are still trying to get assessors on the ground to properly assess and communicate a first-hand account of proper response needs for a second wave of responders. Due to the additional delays, it may be early next week before this takes place. I know that there are some agencies that have made it in and that news agencies are filming, but please keep in mind that they can spend vast amounts of money to make that happen and are often willing to put themselves at great risk for the exposure. We will (also) not move forward until we are assured we will not hinder the search and rescue teams and medical personnel that have already been dispatched to the scene (which) may take a few more days.”
In short, he said he would be in touch as soon as the assessment was in, but did not expect to be sending anyone for at least seven to 10 days.
Singleton said he thought a group of doctors from Alabama may have left ahead of him, but could not say for sure.