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IsraAID/FIRST Medic in Haiti: Only Jessica's Eyes Were Moving

Only the little girl’s eyes were moving, said IsraAID medic Alan Schneider. Jessica, 6, was rescued after being trapped for six days under rubble.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 1/19/2010, 3:11 PM / Last Update: 1/19/2010, 3:37 PM

courtesy of IsraAid

Six-year-old Jessica Hartelin wasn’t moving late Monday night when she was rushed into the Port-au-Prince stadium where IsraAID/FIRST medics had set up their clinic. The little girl had been pulled from the rubble six days after a building collapsed on top of her in the massive earthquake that shook the capital of Haiti to its knees.

Jessica was dehydrated when she arrived (Israel news photo: courtesy of IsraAID/FIRST)

Alan Schneider, a member of the IsraAid emergency medical team and director of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem, said local volunteers had managed to pull the child out and rushed her to the Israeli team for treatment. Noticing the rush of people coming towards the stadium, Schneider quickly called to his team to clear one of the tables from the patients who were being treated with less urgent injuries.

Volunteers set up their clinic in the stadium (Israel news photo: courtesy of IsraAID/FIRST)

“She was completely motionless, only her eyes were moving, looking at the people around her,” Schneider related in an exclusive email interview with Israel National News.

“She immediately received two IVs, then some drops of water from a syringe and later a toffee candy that she chewed slowly," he continued. "She began to respond to questions and was able to move her legs a bit when asked by the doctors and nurses.”

 

Checking Jessica's responsiveness (Israel news photo: courtesy of IsraAID/FIRST)

“It struck me that her little ponytails with white elastic bands were all perfectly intact when she was brought to us.”

Schneider added that it had taken the volunteers about 15 minutes to bring the child from the rescue site to the clinic set up by IsraAID/FIRST; once she was stabilized, his team moved her again to the IDF field hospital on the other side of town. That took another 45 minutes, partly due to the distance and partly due to the complexities of traveling through the nearly-destroyed city.

Canadian Jew Still Listed as Missing
While the little girl's condition was a bright spot on the gloomy Haitian horizon, the Montreal Jewish community continues to pray for the safe return of Alexandre Bitton, an information technology consultant still listed as missing.

Bitton had just checked into his hotel on the island when the earthquake hit, crushing the building. Bitton, 37, is married and the father of a two-year-old son. He had planned to be in Haiti on business for a week in what was his first trip to the island.

'Unlike Other Disaster Scenes'
“The team is holding up amazingly well despite the pressures,” Schneider commented. “There is a fantastic can-do group spirit.” However, he added, there is also “a lot of frustration among our team members [because] most of the [other] national teams who have come to help are holed up at the airport, apparently due to security concerns.”

International media continue to report on increased looting, and worse, by roving bands of young men roaming the streets of Port-au-Prince with machetes.

"This is unlike other disaster scenes I have encountered,” Schneider added, “including Sri Lanka, Georgia and elsewhere – where each national team was out in the field setting up operations among the population and proudly displaying their flag. We saw no distribution of water by international organizations, no tent encampments established, no medical clinics operating among the displaced population... Other teams work only a few hours and rush back midday to the airport compound. We have encountered no international teams operating along the 10 km route we took from the airport to the stadium."

He said, however, that his team had not encountered any violence, “perhaps since we are operating at the stadium with a famous [local] DJ here – Constant – who has established the stadium as a refugee camp through [his own] personal initiative.”

Those who wish to reach IsraAID/FIRST can contact the director, Shachar Zahavi, at szahavi@hotmail.com .