Earthquake victims, writhing in pain and grasping at life, watched doctors and nurses walk away from a field hospital Friday night after a Belgian medical team evacuated the area, saying it was concerned about security.So obviously they all got ordered out. Say what you want about Belgians, Canadian military doesn't abandon wounded civilians without orders. Pretty hefty orders too. Shades of Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda, I swear.
The decision left CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta as the only doctor at the hospital to get the patients through the night.
CNN initially reported, based on conversations with some of the doctors, that the United Nations ordered the Belgian First Aid and Support Team to evacuate. However, Belgian Chief Coordinator Geert Gijs, a doctor who was at the hospital with 60 Belgian medical personnel, said it was his decision to pull the team out for the night. Gijs said he requested U.N. security personnel to staff the hospital overnight, but was told that peacekeepers would only be able to evacuate the team.
He said it was a "tough decision" but that he accepted the U.N. offer to evacuate after a Canadian medical team, also at the hospital with Canadian security officers, left the site Friday afternoon. The Belgian team returned Saturday morning.
Two questions occur to me.
- why aren't all these medical personnel ARMED? Like, with GUNS? As in, with real bullets in them?
- what kind of military hospital installation isn't guarded in a riot zone? Are you kidding me?
Quote of the new century goes to Lt. Gen. Russel "You are stuck on stupid!" Honore:
F-in' A, General sir.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who led relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said the evacuation of the clinic's medical staff was unforgivable.
"Search and rescue must trump security," Honoré said. "I've never seen anything like this before in my life. They need to man up and get back in there."
Honoré drew parallels between the tragedy in New Orleans, Louisiana, and in Port-au-Prince. But even in the chaos of Katrina, he said, he had never seen medical staff walk away.
"I find this astonishing these doctors left," he said. "People are scared of the poor."
Also, Sanjay Gupta and his CNN camera crew win the Phantom's "Balls Of Steel!" award for today. Way to have a pair, Dr. Gupta and team! Non-government guy steps up where government issue WUSSES fear to tread.
The "run away, run awaaaaay!" Phantom