Dispatch from an Airman in Haiti– “One life at a time”

Chief Master Sergeant Tyler Foster is the Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs deployed chief of operations at the Troussaint Louverture International Airport in Port au Prince, Haiti.  He and his team are supporting U.S. Southern Command relief efforts in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the nation.

USAF medics care for injured HaitianThere is no “easing” into the day here at the military encampment at the Port au Prince airport.  Navy and Marine helos hit the deck here at 0630 sharp.  There’s no snooze button on that alarm.  You roll out of your cot, put the same uniform on that you’ve worn for the last 3 or 4 days.  Does it stink?  Who knows, everyone is in the same boat.  This ain’t no formal dinner.  These are bare base operations.  Our focus is mission.  Our mission is saving lives.

Bleary-eyed Airmen migrate toward the port-o-lets then off to their work space: a table, a steel chair, the flightline, the rubble of a building.  There’s no complaining.  You grab a cup of joe if it’s ready.  Otherwise, it’s water.  Water all day every day to keep hydrated.

You learn to tune out the incessant and essential cacophony the ever-busy flightline offers.  The word “noisy” doesn’t do this environment justice.  At times it is deafening.  The hum of the flightline means life saving supplies, equipment and personnel are on their way to the Haitian citizens who need them.  One life at a time.  That’s all we can do.  Save one life at a time.

Photo Cutline:  U.S. Air Force Medics, Master Sgt. Douglas Brook and Tech. Sgt Nicholas Wentworth, Air Force Special Operations Command, perform urgent medical care to a Haitian man at the Troussaint Louverture International Airport, Haiti on  Jan. 18, 2010. The man was injured in an earthquake that rocked the country on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)