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What I Love About America

January 22, 2010

There are many things wrong with our country. Americans are selfish, overweight, insensitive and uncaring. Some would have you believe we are the Great Satan and a justifiable target because of the simple fact of who we are and where we live. We are also some of the most generous human beings on this planet.

As I watch the events unfold in Haiti I have witnessed the greatness of America. We have individually given nearly $500,000,000 in charitable donations in a little over a week. We have sent Urban Search and Rescue teams from across this country within 72 hours of the earthquake to a place many of us have never been to rescue people we will never know. We have deployed the largest hospital ship in the world completely staffed by military medical personnel to render care to a country that has little left of its medical system. Our Soldiers and Marines are there helping to restore order and distribute badly needed humanitarian aid to people in desperate need.

We are not alone in these efforts as many countries throughout the world have contributed to this unfathomable event of human suffering caused by the earthquake. Indeed as we see the images and hear the stories of suffering each of us is moved to do SOMETHING. While many expect our governments to do the heavy lifting of this effort it is the individual American that has most inspired and touch me.

There are many examples of individuals simply heading down to Haiti, either through organized relief groups or on their own to lend a hand. Several members of our emergency physician group, Medical Emergency Professionals (MEP), are there providing care and comfort. Emergency physicians Drs Rafi Malik and Janelle Martin from Washington County Hospital are working through relief groups. One of our physician assistants from St Mary’s Hospital, Mark Hayward (who also happens to be an ex-special forces medic), is working with a self organized team, called Team Rubicon, and they have quite a story to tell.

Team Rubicon was organized by former Marines Jake Wood and William McNulty. They solicited the help of people with search and rescue as well as medical skills. The remarkable thing is he did it online and using their network of connections to arrive in the Dominican Republic and link up with Brother Jim Boynton from a Jesuit Mission near the airport. Their stories are amazing and can be followed online at Facebook Team Rubicon or MEP (Medical Emergency Professionals) as well as Jake Wood’s blog at http://blog.teamrubiconhaiti.org/

After landing in the Dominican Republic and securing entry to Haiti their team went to an area of Port-Au-Prince near the Jesuit Mission and began treating patients. Their team provided the first medical care to the residents in this area since the earthquake. To think that in less than a week a group of individuals was able to organize themselves, secure travel and get into that area with little to no government support speaks volumes about what can be done by a few committed individuals. It also speaks about what is best about America. It is a story that is rarely told today and more common than most realize.

So whether you are one of the select few who travel to a far away place to provide relief or someone who donates your time or money in other ways to support this effort I offer you thanks and prayers for your good work. May we continue to offer that generosity more frequently in the future.

Angelo Falcone, MD

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