Amidst horrible news from Haiti, a brief moment of patriotism: This is MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow interviewing NBC News chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman in Port-au-Prince, Haiti:
The Rachel Maddow Show – January 18, 2010 – Transcript:
MADDOW: Have you been promised that antibiotics will be arriving? Those are among the assets that we keep hearing are being directed to Haiti. Some of those assets we know aren‘t getting there because of this now legendary bottleneck in getting things to where they need to be. But have you at least been promised that antibiotics are on their way?
SNYDERMAN: The promises have been big, Rachel. And until last night, we were sleeping on the tarmac of the airport. We saw wide-bodied aircraft coming in every 15 minutes and lots and lots of supplies coming off. That‘s the good news.
The bad news is: there‘s just no infrastructure. On a good day, the Haitian government was rather, you know, incompetent. Now, it‘s fractured.
There are roads that don‘t work. There are Haitian police who, frankly, are of very little help. There are aid workers who are cut off. Phone service is poor. BlackBerry service is poor.
So, things are trickling into places, but usually by word of mouth. It‘s going to be days I think before we start to see the centralized push globally and the things that are being delivered here really getting to the places that need it.
The Israelis, as you mentioned, are the exception to the rule. We watched as their 747 landed at the airport and they unloaded MASH units complete with everything—ORs with teams, equipment, just as you would expect the Israelis to do. They came here complete, ready, fortified, and able to work.
MADDOW: And Americans right now would love to hear that we were also matching that—in terms of what we were able to provide and we‘ve heard that the naval ship Comfort should be there by Wednesday. We‘ve heard that they‘re able to do offshore work at the Carl Vinson.
We‘ve heard that there are hundreds of American medical staff there, but what you‘re saying is that the American assets haven‘t been organized in such a way that they could make an immediate impact?
SYNDERMAN: The organization is terribly different. I mean, the Israelis came in a more concentrated group, not as big as the U.S. forces, and really came prepared to have operating rooms that could be set up overnight and they could start doing surgery. I must tell you that the Armed Forces we‘ve seen have done a yeoman‘s job. They have hit the ground running.
But it‘s a small force relatively to be peacekeepers, deliver water, humanitarian aid, set up operating rooms, supply ORs surgeons and nurses. It‘s a very different kind of structure.
Now, the good news is, I have met physicians and nurses from probably 30 different countries over the last 24 hours. But they are making it here on their own.
They are arriving in Miami. They‘re hitching rides. They‘re landing.
They‘re not sure where to go.
They‘re arriving on the front doors of clinics and saying, “Can I help?” And the minute they ask that question, they are put to work with very little rest.
And that I think is the critical problem right now. It‘s a massive effort, but it‘s not coordinated. People meaning well, doing well, but no centralized command here to really make sure that all the entities are communicating.