Medical disaster response
Nature is harsh in Southern Africa. Rural communities can often see their crops withered under the relentless sun or washed away by flash floods.
As soon as the fragile infrastructure of a community is unbalanced, epidemics can strike. Dysentery and cholera come first, with an incubation period of 5 to 7 days. Hot on their heels typhoid may follow, with a 21 day incubation period. Malaria and measles may be waiting patiently to strike.
And yet one nurse with a cool box full of vaccines can save a rural township from typhoid or measles. One sanitation expert can help avoid an outbreak of dysentery or cholera. And the most direct way to reach the point-of-need quickly is by helicopter.
Logistical disaster response
At Wings we are happy that our small non-profit work comes second to larger and better known aid organisations.
These groups – such as the United Nations, Red Cross or Red Crescent, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision – have a global role to play and we support their and others’ efforts wholeheartedly.
But it would be impossible even for those larger groups to justify having a helicopter on the ground in South East Africa, simply waiting for its next assignment. And yet in the vital, early days of a disaster a helicopter can be fundamental to the disaster response work they do.
Wings is the solution. Because we focus our entire year on maintaining a helicopter presence in the area, it is reassuring for the bigger charity organisations to know that a safe and nimble, local flying team is available for them whenever they need it.
To the heart of the problem
There are really only two alternatives to a helicopter for making a disaster response by delivering aid to disaster zones: lorries and boats. In times of drought, a lorry might take two days crawling along rutted roads in the blazing heat to do the same journey a helicopter can make in one hour. And when there are floods, the scant supply of boats have a problem navigating fast flowing rivers over the large distances between communities.
When minutes count, Wings can collect local or international medical staff and rush them to their destination. The hours saved can slash the mortality rate and ease the suffering of those afflicted.
But when you add up the pilot, fuel, insurance, maintenance and ground crew costs involved in operating a helicopter, we need to attract donations of over $1000 per flying hour. President Obama’s campaign for the White House showed what can be achieved by many people giving small sums. Any donation is welcomed. We need your help to make a better disaster response.