The Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART for short, is a specialized team of about 200 Canadian Forces soldiers that flies into disaster areas around the world to provide drinking water and medical treatment until long-term aid arrives. The military created DART in 1996 because of its experience in Rwanda two years earlier, when international relief organizations arrived too late to save thousands of people from a cholera epidemic.
Yesterday's deadly 7.0 earthquake in Haiti will kill thousands. Our 200-member rapid response unit, which can operate a mobile command centre and a medical facility with water purification equipment capable of producing 100,000 litres of clean drinking water, will be deployed to Haiti.
The only question is when and how to balance the need for medical professionals to treat the sick and wounded against the need for engineers and infrastructure specialists who can prop up damaged bridges and buildings in a land where flimsy construction standards were no match for the sliding tectonic plates.
Port-au-Prince has been devastated. I don't think sending prayers will be sufficient. The DART is a good start, but the Haitian people are going to need a lot more help than that.
[picture via The Big Picture]