Coordinating with Indonesians to Provide Emergency Aid

Direct Relief International is responding to the May 27 earthquake that hit Yogyakarta Indonesia. The 6.3 scale quake has reportedly killed as many as 3,000 people in the region.

Direct Relief staff today spoke with the National Chairman of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s largest nongovernmental organization, with which Direct Relief has been working on tsunami relief efforts for over the past year.

National Chairman Dr. H. Sudibyo Markus, who visited Direct Relief’s California-based headquarters in April, advised that teams have been deployed to the area and are deeply engaged in emergency relief efforts.

Dr. H. Sudibyo Markus worked with Direct Relief staff to develop a response plan for this type of incident.

Direct Relief also has been coordinating with colleague U.S. and international organizations active in the area.

In response to specific requests from Muhammadiyah, Direct Relief will airlift surgery kits, wound-care products, antibiotics, and personal care items for displaced residents, and has offered cash assistance to support its emergency efforts.

Muhammadiyah operates a vast network of hospitals, clinics, educational, and social programs throughout Indonesia.

Because the introduction of inappropriate material into the emergency-affected area hampers effective relief efforts, Direct Relief provides assistance only specifically requested material from qualified parties in the region.

Over the past 19 months, Direct Relief International has furnished over $13.8 million in medical aid and cash assistance to tsunami-affected areas in Indonesia.

Background: Direct Relief Perspectives on Post-Earthquake Emergency Relief

Search and Rescue and Emergency Medical Services Come First. The immediate priority after a natural disaster is finding and providing emergency first aid and medical services to injured persons. Local residents, health professionals, emergency workers, and public-safety officers are the first responders.

The Type of Disaster Affects the Types of Health Services Required. Earthquakes often cause various blunt-trauma and orthopaedic injuries, such as broken bones, lacerations, and crush syndrome from being trapped under heavy debris.

Widespread Injuries Occur Simultaneously, Overwhelming Medical Systems. Since the overwhelming number of persons injured in an earthquake are hurt at the same moment, shortages of health personnel, medical supplies, blood, and medicines arise fast. Also, concurrent damage to medical facilities and equipment victims at the same time as widespread injuries occur further complicates the ability to assist.

Shelter, Food, Water, Medicine for Displaced Persons. The top priority during the first 72 hours is search-and-rescue and lifesaving medical triage; however earthquakes also result in significant displacement of people from their homes. Arrangements for shelter, food, water, and medicines, including the establishment of new supply lines must be developed simultaneously.

Attention to Water and Sanitation Systems. In addition to the trauma injuries caused by earthquakes, people can become ill due to their lack of shelter, compromised water and sanitation systems, lack of refrigeration, and untreated minor injuries. These circumstances can lead to bacterial infections and disease outbreaks among people who are forced into temporary shelters.

Logistics Challenges. Bottlenecks often occur as efforts to bring in personnel and material converge in a disaster area that has damaged roads and airports and limited transportation arteries. Warehousing, transport, communications, and needs assessments are difficult in such circumstances.

Each incident has specific characteristics that are dependent upon local facts and circumstances. Direct Relief’s approach to this and all disasters is to support the immediate needs of victims by working with local partners best situated to assess, respond, and prepare for the long-term recovery that will be needed. Direct Relief also coordinates with all local, national, and international responders to avoid duplication of effort, waste, and logistics bottlenecks.

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