Scientology Volunteer Minister, home from Haiti, says more help is needed

| Clearwater, Florida 24 February 2010 |

Scientology Volunteer Minister David Dempster, a Scotsman who has lived in Clearwater, Florida, for the past four years, was on the first Scientology-sponsored charter flight to Haiti on January 16, departing from JFK International Airport in New York.

The aircraft transported more than 100 doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians to Haiti, and a team of Volunteer Ministers to support them in their work. Five more flights sponsored by Scientologists have provided transport for over 600 medical and support personnel on donated planes from New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Dempster, who provided urgently needed administrative backup to doctors at two Port-au-Prince hospitals, is back in Florida now, and reflects on his experiences there.

David working in the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Dempster was first deployed to the Port-au-Prince General Hospital. “On our drive to the hospital, the physical destruction we saw was staggering,” he said. “A local resident told me most buildings are made of concrete blocks to safeguard against hurricane damage, but this served them badly in the quake. The damage was exacerbated by the common practice of mixing extra sand in the concrete to save money. Because of this, the walls just crumbled in the earthquake.”

At the General Hospital, Dempster’s team provided administrative backup to the doctors and nurses on duty. “Our Volunteer Ministers organized incoming medical supplies, helped calm distressed patients, distributed water to patients, carried stretchers, helped deliver babies and assisted with amputations, of which there were many,” he said. “We had a team of four or five Volunteer Ministers assisting the doctor who ran the Intensive Care Unit during the day and two Volunteer Ministers who took on overnight duty. This made an enormous difference in the quality of patient care.”

Dempster also worked at the University of Miami tent hospital. Medical staff had arrived in Haiti, but with no administrative personnel to support them. This tied up the doctors, nurses and EMTs in administrative and logistics functions, drastically cutting into their patient care. To free up the doctors and nurses, the Volunteer Ministers took over myriad administrative support functions. Organization of medical supplies was the first critical need. Donated supplies had been dropped off, unsorted and unlabeled, forming mountains of boxes, and the scene was consuming precious hours of doctors’ and nurses’ time trying to find a particular medication, a clamp or a syringe. The Volunteer Ministers attacked the disarray of the supply tent, sorting and stacking, organizing and labeling, and setting up a distribution line to get needed items to medical personnel rapidly. This handling of the supply tent by the Scientology Volunteer Ministers enabled the doctors and nurses to spend their time treating patients, with many lives saved as a direct result.

Another area of enormous need was the organizing and running of triage—registering incoming patients, giving them wristband IDs, and noting their visible injuries so doctors and nurses could more rapidly assess priorities. Dempster was put in charge of the Volunteer Ministers in this area, replacing a nurse who had been doing this. “She was very relieved to be able to get on with actual nursing duties,” he said, “while we Volunteer Ministers took care of administrative and logistics matters.” Back in Florida, Dempster says the work still to be done is massive and he encourages others to volunteer.