An Argentine Air Force (FAA, in Spanish) Hercules C-130 aircraft departed for Haiti with a White Helmets contingent on August 21, 2021, following the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that left more than 2,000 dead. The White Helmets Commission is a body under the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs that provides international humanitarian assistance in emergency and disaster situations.
The 24 volunteers, including health and logistics personnel, are on the Caribbean island to provide humanitarian aid for 20 days. The mission includes health personnel and three sniffer dogs to locate victims, as well as a field hospital and medical equipment.
“Our solidarity with Haiti is very long-standing,” Argentine Minister of Defense Jorge Taiana said during the volunteers’ send-off at El Palomar Air Base, in Buenos Aires. “This is a very important mission for the White Helmets, an institution that Argentina created for humanitarian aid 27 years ago and that, throughout its existence, has carried out more than 700 humanitarian missions,” Taiana said.
Argentine Foreign Minister Felipe Solá, also present at the ceremony, thanked the FAA for its support in guaranteeing all the necessary logistics for this mission. “We hope to be of use, as White Helmets have been so many times, always jointly and with the help of our Air Force, in all cases,” the minister said.
The nearly 180-square meter field hospital is equipped to set up a health center capable of serving 100 patients per day. Children and adults affected by the earthquake can access orthopedics, general medicine, nursing, emergency care, diagnostic imaging (ultrasound), and monitoring with multiparametric equipment, the Argentine government said in a statement.
The hospital has stretchers, hospital cots, wheelchairs, spinal tables, carts for medical instruments, and 40 boxes of water purification tablets, which can purify 8 million liters of water. The facility can also provide its own electricity and has enough food to be self-sufficient during the mission.
“In addition, the [Argentine] Ministry of Health is sending 216,000 doses of double viral vaccine and seven first aid kits containing antibiotics, analgesics, antihypertensives, and water purification pills, among other drugs,” the Argentine government indicated.
On August 24, White Helmets Commission President Marina Cardelli announced from Haiti the beginning of operations. “Today, we start medical care in [the commune of] Corail. We are trying to do it as quickly as possible, so we are very happy to have already started,” Cardelli said in statements to Télam Radio.