Just a couple of days before the start of hurricane season, I decided to go see one of the American Red Cross disaster preparedness programs in Port-au-Prince. It was a thirty minute drive from the American Red Cross office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti before we reached we the Tapis Rouge camp, home to about 14,000 people. After about fifteen minutes of hiking – down and up steep hills, across a concrete bridge and up a dozen or more stairs – we reached the site of a makeshift church where 65 camp residents were receiving first aid training from Red Cross volunteers.
Over our heads were a few tarps to protect us from the hot afternoon sun while young men and women learned how to carry people on stretchers, treat burns and bandage wounds. Next week, the same group of residents, will learn how to use bull-horns, whistles and flags as part of an early warning system to identify risks and warn residents ahead of future disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and fires.
This is all part of the American Red Cross disaster risk reduction program to train and empower residents to know what to do in case of an emergency in some of the most vulnerable camps in and around Port-au-Prince. Currently, Red Cross volunteers are training residents in 9 camps and hope to expand to more than 25 by the end of June.