Toronto volunteers back from Haiti relief mission
Published Sunday, January 24, 2010 1:50PM EST
Eleven GTA health care workers returned to Toronto from Haiti Saturday, and one man described going numb to the pain he saw.
They were in Haiti for about a week treating people wounded in the Jan. 12 earthquake.
The group of volunteers travelled with Humanity First, a charitable organization aimed at alleviating poverty and disease.
J.T. Lone said it is especially heartbreaking to treat the injured children.
"You kind of lose track of yourself and what you're doing," he said.
"You go numb to the pain that you feel because you see blood everywhere."
He said hospitals in Haiti are overwhelmed and only taking the most critically injured patients.
That puts those with wounds at risk of infections because their bandages are not being changed.
"Our hospital provides them an option to change their bandages," Lone told CTV News.
Volunteer Mohammed Saleem said the scale of the disaster made it difficult for Humanity First to set up clinics.
"Even in the hospitals, people were not able to get treatment because they don't have any beds," he said.
"People are lying on the floors."
He said the team struggled just to get into the disaster-hit country.
They took a flight to Santiago De Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, but the airline lost their medical supplies in Miami. They had to wait 14 hours to get their luggage before they could even leave for Haiti.
But once they finally got a hold of their supplies, they still had a 24 hour drive ahead of them to get into Haiti.
The 11 volunteers who returned to Toronto Sunday said they treated about 150 patients a day.
Fourteen doctors with the organization are still in Port-au-Prince and 21 more doctors and paramedics left Toronto for Haiti on Saturday.
People in the group who came home Sunday said they plan on returning to Haiti to help.
Humanity First says it is working with the United Nations to assess needs and establish long-term projects to help Haiti.
The group will run a telethon on Toronto radio station CIAO 530 AM on Sunday evening. It will also hold a fundraising banquet in February to raise money for future humanitarian efforts.