Marines

MIF-Haiti helps family devastated by flood

28 May 2004 | Sgt. Ryan S. Scranton

A severely injured 14-year-old Haitian boy was evacuated by helicopter to the Multinational Interim Force – Haiti’s medical facilities at Camp Cintron, the MIFH’s headquarters in Port-au-Prince, May 28.
The boy’s father brought the teenager to a water distribution point, established by the MIFH to provide relief to the village that was devastated by recent flooding, where medical personnel quickly began assessing his injuries. The boy’s brother and two sisters drowned while trying to escape the surging waters.
After assessing the boy’s condition, Interim Force personnel arranged for the teenager and his father to be airlifted to the their medical facility for treatment.
“We made a decision based on his condition and the assets that were available,” said Staff Sgt. Victor Perales, the Special Forces medic who performed the initial assessment of the teen. “The village was washed away, the roads were impassable and the closest hospital was over an hour away by foot.”
The boy’s neck was severely cut on a piece of tin sheeting while trying to escape the flood.
“We woke up in the middle of the night and there was water pouring into the house so I punched out a hole in the roof so we could escape,” said Bien Aime Gaspar, the boy’s father.
In the panic to escape, the boy’s neck was sliced open on the tin. The boy, his pregnant mother and father all clung to trees to survive.
“His brothers and sisters all drowned in our house,” Gaspar said. “We only survived by climbing a tree.”
Over the next 72 hours, the teenager’s wounds began to clot while he hung in the tree waiting for the water to recede.
“He was not in danger of bleeding to death because the wound had started to clot, but the lack of antibiotics and a thorough cleaning lead me to believe the boy could have died of infection,” Perales stated.
Once air transportation was arranged, the MIFH notified their medical personnel of the teenager’s expected arrival at Camp Cintron.
“When the child arrived he had a very deep laceration on his neck and he was missing part of his ear,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Moll, a general surgeon with MIFH. “We x-rayed the area to determine that there were no fractures beneath the wound and then took him into the operating room.”
After approximately three hours in the operating room, the teenager was taken to the medical facility’s intensive care unit for recovery.
“We washed out the wound and removed all of the dead and infected tissue,” Moll explained. “The young man was a real trooper, very stoic and the father showed tremendous strength after suffering such a horrible tragedy.”
Upon seeing his only surviving son come out of the operating room, the father was elated even though he had just lost two daughters, a son and an unborn six-month-old fetus.
The trauma from the disaster caused the teenager’s mother to miscarry.
“I could never say ‘thank you’ enough to the forces here,” Gaspar said. “I will never forget the great thing that you have done. Without your help, I would have lost all my children.”