NJ Doctors Prep to Help Haiti as Queens Man Comes Home

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    Haitians are surving in tents and on the streets in the earthquake damaged zone.

    Four days after a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated Haiti, hospitals are overflowing with people in need of immediate medical attention and help just can't come fast enough.

    For many, surviving the earthquake was only half the misery. Haiti's most wounded are being transfered to the Jimani Hospital of the Dominican Republic. The tiny hospital is trying to save as many people as they can -- children with skull fractures, mothers missing toes -- but there aren't enough doctors or medical supplies.

    "We have a lot of amputations, guys that have gangrene, open fractures" one medic told NBC New York. "We need more space and more personnel to perform the amputations." 

    The courageous workers on the border of the Dominican Republic haven't stopped working since the quake demolished the impoverished country. But relief efforts are slowly beginning to make their way into the catastrophe-ridden region.

    Help Can't Arrive Fast Enough in Haiti

    [NY] Help Can't Arrive Fast Enough in Haiti
    Four days after a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated Haiti, hospitals are overflowing with people in need of immediate medical attention and help just can't come fast enough.

    Even as money flows toward Haitian earthquake relief efforts, a team of ten doctors, mostly internists, is preparing to leave New Jersey Sunday on a mission of mercy to the land where they were born.

    "We're gonna be armed to face ... what a doctor would do in a combat situation," said Dr. Bernier Lauredan of Irvington, New Jersey.

    In fact, he says each doctor will take two large bags of medical supplies from their own offices, including anti-biotics, while hoping to find more medicines and other supplies brought in by aid flights once they get there.

    "We're going to go down there to do what we learned to do in an emergency; if we have to cut off feet, we'll cut off feet," a determined Lauredan told NBCNewYork.

    For most people, a cash donation is considered the best way to help those in need.

    "We are asking specifically for everyone to please make some kind of contribution," said Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who also announced that his administration is setting up an automatic payroll deduction, as New York City is doing, for any city employee who wants to donate. Booker said donations of as little as a dollar would be gladly accepted.

    Dr. Lauredan, who heads The Haitian League in New Jersey, said some $50,000 has already been raised to help fund the trip of his team of fourteen, including the ten doctors.

    He expects to be there for at least a week, likely longer while working 15 hour days to help save lives.

    Asked if he is optimistic, he replied that he is "hopeful."

    "With the international assistance we can redo a new Haiti where we can have housing, a new Haiti where we can have people working, a new Haiti where we can have people who make more than a dollar a day," Dr. Lauredan said.

    Meanwhile, a Queens man and former candidate for city council who rushed to Haiti in the aftermath of the horrific quake to find his family is coming home upon learning that they survived the devastation, NBC New York has learned.
    Clyde Vanel, of Cambria Heights, was among the first to jet out to the Dominican border earlier this week; he had no plan, no rental car or hotel -- only his determination to help his family, stand by his community and help in any way he could.

    Vanel, the son of Haitian immigrants, is due to fly back to New York Saturday morning. As for why he traveled to the quake-shattered region in the first place, he said, "The Haitian people are resilient people, and being of Haitian background we must stand to unite. They need help, and I couldn't stay home and just watch. I had to come and do something about it."

    Crews from New York City, drawing on their experience from the catastrophe wreaked on Sept. 11, 2001, are also on their way to "do something" about the chaos and assist in the search and rescue effort. A team of 80 specialists are en route to Haiti. The squad is made up of elite members of the FDNY and NYPD who have unique expertise working in collapsed buildings.
    NYPD Deputy Inspector Robert Lukach labored in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks. He says the destruction in Haiti is similar, but the buildings are smaller and he has more hope of finding survivors.
    The unit is one of 28 federal Urban Search and Rescue teams around the country. Squad members can live for days out of backpacks filled with supplies as they dig into the wreckage.