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effort, there were no shortages of aircraft available to help. This presented its own set of unique challenges: Namely, air- space that was completely saturated, so much so that the Haitian government closed the airspace entirely around the Port-au-Prince Airport.

“But it was the way it was closed that was most interesting,” explained Hardin. “The tower operator simply announced the airspace was closed and then turned off the radio, leaving dozens of aircraft uncontrolled and in close proximity.” Hardin and the Helidosa professionals eventually put a standardized schedule in place, with fixed-wing aircraft put on standard routes, helicopters given struc- tured routing in and out of the Port-au- Prince Airport, and safety measures such as load manifests and weight/balance cal- culations were enacted.

Aside from coordinating crowded air space, rescue workers also had to navigate difficult terrain ranging from mountains to deserts and sandy beaches to dense forestation, the lack of first responders to

The Children’s International Lifeline operates an orphanage/refugee camp just 25 northwest of Port-au-Prince in Haiti. The camp houses a small school, a medical clinic, a kitchen/dining facility, and a non-denominational church. Organizers are able to feed approximately 1,300 Haitian children daily.

provide assistance on the ground, and the inability to communicate with the pilot once crossing into Haiti. “There was no power in the Caribbean, so therefore we lacked the traditional long-distance forms of communications,” he said. Not to men- tion the dangers inherent to such utter devastation, including ground convoys suspected of having food and water being attacked.

“That’s what makes this so different from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for in- stance,” said Hardin. “Everything has to be done through the air in Haiti. Because

of the danger, we were forced to establish a series of five designated safe landing zones, and a curfew of nightfall was en- acted by the government. We travelled in flights of two or more so that if one air- craft went down, a communication relay could be established.” Safely moving pa- tients, passengers and cargo into a country with such massive devastation proved to be “immensely challenging,” Hardin said.

Children’s International Lifeline

Hardin’s initial eight-day trip was spent providing logistical coordination for HEMS; his return trip was more humani- tarian in nature. Hardin met with the AeroAmbulancia Board of Directors about contributing directly to the human- itarian efforts already underway, and with the recommendation of a company called Air Calvary, the Helidosa Aviation Group decided on a cause that was not receiving aid from the international community: The Children’s International Lifeline

Continued on page ?? Continued on page 30

In addition to 1,600 pounds of food, the Helidosa Aviation Group delivered water, paper towels and other supplies to the refugee camp. • March 2010

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