Starting Out

first_imgClick here to subscribe to the Pharr Out BlogYou dream it for years, you plan it for months, then abruptly the time comes to undertake your goal and suddenly you don’t know how to feel.I am currently in the car with my husband, Brew, driving to the base of Katahdin. We are going to spend the afternoon scouting out access roads in the 100 mile Wilderness and if we are able to confirm our meeting points today then I will start my 2,175 mile journey tomorrow, and at the latest Saturday.I don’t know that I am anxious as much as expectant. There is a little bit of fear in me, but I can talk it down and out fairly quickly. I know failure is an option, but when failure is an option it also means that success is attainable. And that’s what this is, a dream; the opportunity to reach beyond my known limits and do something that no one of my sex has done before. Bluntly, it opens up the possibility of a women’s trail record and a world record, however, that doesn’t feel very personal. The intimate issue is that after a long period of preparation, all it’s really about now is just finding out what I’m made of… what’s inside.There is nothing about this journey that does not feel natural, dare I say preordained. People talk about a “calling,” and whether or not I am called by destiny, the wilderness, or a sense of adventure; I know that above all I am called by a sense of belonging. As humans, we are all given an exclusive set of gifts and talents. I truly believe that I have a pain threshold, level of endurance, and love of the woods that makes me uniquely qualified to try to set a woman’s endurance record on the Appalachian Trail. It feels like my body and skills are best utilized in such an endeavor. When I am pushing my limits in nature there is a sense of home; granted, without the stereotypical comforts, but with a sense of meaning and purpose that calls up something innately rooted within my soul.One of the first men to set an Appalachain Trail Endurance Record was David Horton, and then in 2005 he went to the Pacific Crest Trail and set an endurance record on the west coast. This summer he attempted a third record on the Continental Divide Trail, but on the first day he fell victim to extreme heat and conditions and was forced to give-up the attempt due to life-threatening circumstances. I look up to David Horton a great deal, and hearing of his attempt was a sound reminded of how courageous he is, and how powerful and dangerous the elements can be.This summer, I am in no way planning of trying to fight or conquer the trail and it’s conditions. Instead, I want to live harmoniously within its boundaries in a way that I can freely flow down its path. I want to embrace its challenges and learn from every experience.I want to hike the trail, and I am so excited that the time has come and I am able to take my first steps. Even if those ‘first steps’ will result in a hopeful 44 miles on my first day.last_img read more

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Time for Plan B?

first_imgLester Brown and the first Plan B book, published in 2003. There have been three subsequent editions. Photo: Earth Policy InstituteDear EarthTalk: Some friends of mine were talking about a book called “Plan B” that proposes a plan for rescuing the environment and ending poverty around the world. Is it a realistic plan or just some utopian pipe dream? — Robin Jackson, Richmond, VAWhat started as a book has grown into a movement known as “Plan B” which presents a roadmap for achieving worldwide goals of stabilizing both population and climate. According to Lester Brown, author of the 2003 book, Plan B (and three subsequent updates) and founder of the non-profit environmental think tank, Earth Policy Institute, the plan is based on replacing the fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy with a new economic model powered by abundant sources of renewable energy.Brown argues for transportation systems that are diverse and aim to maximize mobility, widely employing light rail, buses and bicycles. “A Plan B economy comprehensively reuses and recycles materials,” he says. “Consumer products from cars to computers are designed to be disassembled into their component parts and completely recycled.”Brown even proposes a budget for eradicating poverty, educating the world’s youth and delivering better health care for everyone. “It also presents ways to restore our natural world by planting trees, conserving topsoil, stabilizing water tables, and protecting biological diversity,” says Brown. “With each new wind farm, rooftop solar water heater, paper recycling facility, bicycle path, marine park, rural school, public health facility, and reforestation program, we move closer to a Plan B economy.”Plan B is an integrated program with four interdependent goals: cutting net carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2020, stabilizing population at eight billion or lower, eradicating poverty, and restoring the Earth’s natural systems. Where Plan B really hits home is in the numbers: Brown puts realistic dollar values on the various aspects of his plan, and compares these costs with current military spending. Needless to say, restoring the environment and economy looks like a bargain when viewed against what the developed nations of the world spend on being ready for battle.The beauty of Plan B is that it is feasible with current technologies and could well be achieved by 2020 with a concerted international effort. Brown reportedly wrote the latest incarnation of Plan B as a warning call for leaders of the world to begin “mobilizing to save civilization” given that time is more than ever of the essence. Luminaries from Bill Clinton to E.O. Wilson to Ted Turner have spoken highly of Plan B, and at least one university (Cal State at Chico) has made the latest version of the book (Plan B 4.0) required reading for all incoming freshmen. 1 2last_img read more

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High Five: April 2012

first_img1. Doctor’s Orders – Atlanta, GAPhysician assistants can now prescribe healthy hikes in the great outdoors, which can then be turned in for free passes to Georgia’s state parks. The program is part of a larger effort by the park system to encourage people to use the outdoors as part of their exercise routine. A prescribed calorie burn is an effort everyone can get behind. Just don’t be offended if, during your next physical, your doc tells you to “take a hike.”2. Wet Trails – Chattahoochee River, GA The Chattahoochee River will become the nation’s first designated National Water Trail under the new National Water Trail System unveiled by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Salazar signed a Secretarial Order that establishes national water trails as part of the National Trail System Act of 1968, which allows for more water trails to be signed into law without being bogged down in Congress. Recreational tubers rejoiced by cranking up Alan Jackson and chugging Silver Bullets.3. Solar Blessing – Prince George County, MDA group of 36 church officials in Prince George’s County recently sent a letter to their lawmakers, imploring them to support Governor Martin O’Malley’s plan to use Maryland’s portion of the Atlantic Coast for off-shore wind farms. The multi-denominational clergy clan—which included priests, nuns, rabbis, and an imam—called out air and water pollution from coal-burning power plants. In their view, going green isn’t hippie—it’s godly in a do-unto-others kind of way. “As clergy we recognize the core issue is the impact this has on people,” said Reverend Kip Banks Sr. of Upper Marlboro, Md.4. Leading the Blind – Washington, DCEJ Scott is slowly losing his sight due to the genetic eye disease choroidarema, but that has not slowed him down; in fact, it may have sped him up. Scott is now in the midst of running 12 marathons in 12 different cities in 2012 to benefit The Choroideremia Research Foundation. Running blindfolded to prevent further damage to his eyes, Scott has caught the attention of several national news outlets and plans on running in marathons in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., to promote the cause. Even though he can’t see the runners around him, they can see him and that’s the point.5. Streaking the South – Raleigh, N.C. 70-year-old Barbara Latta holds the longest women’s running streak in the country. She has been running every day since December 5, 1983—that’s over 28 years of consecutive running. Several men from the South have even longer running streaks, including 73-year-old Jon Simpson of Memphis, Tenn., who has been running every day since August 30, 1971, a span of over 40 years. The national leader is 61-year-old Mark Covert, of Lancaster, California, who began his streak on July 23, 1968. Covert has run over 16,000 consecutive days. There’s even an organization dedicated to tracking these relentless runners: the U.S. Running Streak Association lists hundreds of streakers across the country: runeveryday.comBeyond the Blue RidgeCentury Mark – FranceRobert Marchand set a speed record for riding his bike 15.1 miles in 60 minutes, at the age of 100. Following the race, he said, “I could have gone faster; I didn’t want to.”Losing by Winning – Fort Worth, TXScott Downard broke the tape at the Cowtown Marathon, then broke the news that he was wearing a buddy’s number and never registered for the race. The event sparked controversy across the web and Downard was disqualified, going from first to worst, and chat forum pariah, in a matter of seconds.Is it drafty on this waterfall? – Spearfish, S.D.A man received a verbal warning when he was busted for climbing Bridal Veil Falls in the buff on a cold, snowy day last month. The man explained he did it for a laugh and luckily got away without a fine—or frostbite.last_img read more

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The Festy Line Up

first_img2012 tickets go on sale Wednesday, May 16thThe three thousand or so music fans who packed the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville on Saturday night for Blue Ridge Mountain Sports’ 40th birthday party – which featured music from Sarah White, Sons of Bills, and The Infamous Stringdusters – got a bit of an extra treat:  the initial line up announcement for The Festy Experience, the hottest new festival in the Southeast.Hosted by The Infamous Stringdusters, and taking place on the grounds of The Devil’s Backbone Brewery in Nelson County, Virginia, The Festy offers festivarians a nexus of killer music, outdoor sport and lifestyle, hetty organic eats, and great beer.Joining the ‘Dusters this year for the festivities will be:Leftover SalmonTrampled By TurtlesKeller & The KeelsRubblebucketNicki Bluhm & The GramblersElephant RevivalWhitehorseSarah SiskindTony Trischka’s TerritoryThe Steel WheelsJosh Panda & The Hot DamnedDella MaeMargaret GlaspyCarl AndersonMore bands will be announced in the near future, so stay tuned.  From this initial offering, though, it is readily apparent that The Festy is not a musical experience to be missed.  Tickets for the festival, which takes place between October 5th and 7th this year, go on sale Wednesday, May 16th.  Surf over to www.thefesty.com for ticket buying information!Click here for the Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine Festival Guide!last_img read more

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10 Outdoor Novels for the Budding Adventurer in Your Life

first_imgSouth Sea Tales by Jack London– In 1906 Jack London built his own boat and set off on a year-and-a-half voyage through the South Pacific. London navigated Hawaii, Bora Bora, Samoa, Fiji, and the Solomons before most Americans had ever heard of these places. London surfed with kings, dodged headhunters, and fought off disease. The voyage inspired eight short stories replete with menacing sharks, unworldly pearls, deadly typhoons, cannibals and missionaries, heroes and scoundrels. The South Sea Tales include some of London’s best portraits: the fearless missionary John Starhurst, the cruel German slave-trader Max Bunster, and the noble Otoo of Bora Bora. Upright men and rough-house villains struggle in a palm-fringed world of hardship and violence. Such worlds are signature Jack London. South Sea Tales is a faster Call of the Wild, sharp as a reef-ringed atoll.education The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter – Forrest Carter, author of The Outlaw Josey Wales, scandalized legions of fans when his true identify came out in the early 1990s. For decades Carter won the hearts of readers who felt disillusioned with the relentless march of modernity. When Carter’s personal history revealed that he had actually been a card-carrying white supremacist, many, including Oprah Winfrey, pulled The Education of Little Tree from their shelves.  Perhaps it is impossible for this poignant Cherokee coming-of-age story to exist apart from its author. Or, perhaps Little Tree’s education in the ways of his ancestors, the cycles of nature, and the power of compassion will ultimately teach us something markedly different than what the real-life Carter stood for.513wGK37C9LNavigating Early by Claire Vanderpool – When Jack Baker’s mother suddenly dies, and with his father away at WWII, the 13-year-old finds himself at a military boarding school in the woods of Maine. Baker forms an unlikely friendship with an eccentric outcast named Auden Early. Early is a genius mathematician, whose unique ability to interpret the number PI (3.14) inspires an epic journey. The pair hunt for clues along the Appalachian Trail, learn to fly-fish, and search for the Great Bear, a mysterious creature who may hold the answers to the tragic personal losses that both boys have experienced.landIlostThe Land I Lost by Huynh Quang Nhuong – Imbued with boyhood majesty and rich culture, Nhuong recollects his youthful escapades around his mountain village in central Vietnam. Nhuong’s stories captive young readers as his daily encounters with the animal kingdom both tantalize and frighten. Misty tales revolve around hungry crocodiles, the deadly horse snake, and a trusty pet water buffalo named Tank. The story also shares the warmth of family and community. Nhuong’s world is indeed rich, and sadly one that would be jeopardized.julieoftheWolvesJulie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George – In 1972, George and her son Luke travelled to Barrow, Alaska to research wolves for a magazine article. Luke George’s newfound love for the Alaskan wilderness, and the wolves’ remarkable ability to communicate with scientists inspired George to write this Newberry Medal-winning novel. Miyax, a young Eskimo girl, rebels against her traditional upbringing and attempts to run away. She soon finds herself lost and fighting to survive. The experience puts Miyax in the company of wolves and forces her to rely on her indigenous skills.stormStorm Warriors by Elisa Carbone – On the Outer Banks of North Carolina an all-black lifesaving station stood apart as the best in the Coast Guard. Tasked with patrolling the Graveyard of the Atlantic, the Pea Island Lifesaving Station saved innumerable lives, a thankless job during southern reconstruction. A native of the southeast, Carbone tells the story of an African American boy who dreams of becoming a surfman in the treacherous waters of racism and hurricanes. Nathan, who moved to the Outer Banks to escape the KKK, aspires to join the Pea Island crew. He shadows the surfmen, who teach him to bodysurf and mend wounds; yet, Nathan has much more to learn on an island that never sits still.ISOBDIsland of Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell – In 1853 a boat captain from Tennessee discovered a native woman on one of California’s Channel Islands. The Lost Woman of San Nicholas had lived on the island for 18 solitary years. This real-life story inspired historical fiction writer Scott O’Dell to craft a Crusoe-esque masterpiece. As O’Dell tells it, a skirmish between greedy Russian fur traders and the native islanders of Ghalas-at leads the tribe’s search for a new home. Karana, seeing her brother missing, swims back to shore. The pair are now stranded on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. With resiliency, compassion, and respect for the earth, Karana hacks out an existent and even forms some surprising friendships.[divider]About the Author[/divider]Since boyhood Phil Morgan has loved maps, adventure, travel, culture, history, and good stories. He studied the liberal arts at Hillsdale College and has since worked as an ocean lifeguard, a staff writer for Eastern Surf Magazine, a newspaper editor, and a raft guide. He currently lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where he teaches English, writes, and explores the surrounding wilderness. His favorite authors are Jon Krakeur, Jack London, Mark Twain, Paul Theroux, and William Shakespeare. In my early teens the family television broke, and I spent the summer reading books about mystical journeys through India and harrowing expeditions up the Congo. My life changed forever. C.S. Lewis once wrote that adventure stories have a vital role in saving kids from “the slumber of cold vulgarity.” Thanks to IPhones, YouTube, etc., cold slumbers are common. Imaginations die-off, and indifference rules the day.For parents who want to take their kids exploring, this is especially frustrating. As a middle school English teacher, my students constantly remind me of the truth in Lewis’s words. Kids who fall in love with tales of adventure begin to yearn for adventures. They see themselves in the story and want a piece of the action; a mountain to climb, a wave to charge, a cause to fight for. These 10 soul-stirring novels are powerful testimonies to the challenges, thrills, and wonder in coming of age in the outdoors.takemetotheriverTake me to the River by Will Hobbs – Young dirtbags will love Will Hobbs. Rafting, mountain biking, climbing, and fool-hardy expeditions fill the pages of the Colorado author’s 19 young adult novels. In Take Me to the River, Dylan, a boy from Asheville, North Carolina, unites with his river-rat cousin for a wild raft trip down the Rio Grande. An encroaching hurricane delivers big water, and misadventures in Mexico lead to a run-in with a mysterious fugitive. Hobbs’s books are edgy yet cautionary, imparting on the reader that adventure is not about an end point but the challenges along the way.theCayThe Cay by Theodore Taylor – After German U-Boats sink a passenger liner, Phillip Enright finds himself with an old, black West Indian man drifting on a raft somewhere off the coast of Panama. Timothy and Phillip beach on a deserted island, and so begins the boy’s crash course in survival. When sudden blindness threatens Phillip’s self-worth, Timothy cunningly teaches him skills and self-reliance. Thanks to the sacrificial leadership of Timothy, Phillip ultimately learns the tremendous power of things you cannot see but only feel; namely, wisdom, friendship, and love. Theodore Taylor, a native of North Carolina, dedicated the book to Martin Luther King Jr.HatchetHatchet by Gary Paulsen – In 2007, a 12-year-old Boy Scout survived four lonely nights in the mountains of North Carolina. The boy said he applied the lessons he learned in Hatchet throughout the ordeal. Paulsen, alongside Jack London, is the lead dog in the world of YA outdoor literature. His stories sober youth to the harsh realities of the wilderness and tempt them to seek out challenges that test their mettle. In Hatchet, protagonist Brian Robeson spends 54 gut-wrenching days in the Canadian wilderness. With a hatchet as his only means of survival, Brian must summon his courage and attune to nature if he wants to live. Brian’s transformative experience mirrors Paulsen’s, who amidst a troubled childhood found solace in both nature and in books.SouthSeaTaleslast_img read more

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Trail Mix | Althea Grace

first_imgOh, to be young and precocious.Althea Grace, raised by a music loving family within the shadows of the vibrant Chicago music scene, first took the stage at age eight. Ten years later, she has taken her soulful, bluesy voice on tour with Doyle Bramhall II and Los Lobos and has shared the stage with, among others, The Shins, Sylvan Esso, and X Ambassadors.Now eighteen, Grace has just released a new solo EP, Dreamers, her first solo recording since 2015. Featured this month on Trail Mix is the track “Blow Them All Away.”A new musical focus for Grace is Future Stuff, a duo that features her talents on vocals, bass, and guitar along with Gabe Burdulis on guitar, kick drum, trumpet looping, and vocals. Future Stuff released their first EP in 2016, and it is my hope that this combination of outstanding young musicians has plans for a recording project and extensive touring in 2018.Althea was kind enough to take some questions from me on the new recording project, her already long performing career, and how to keep from flaming out too young.BRO – On stage and performing before the age of ten? Were you too young to be nervous?AG – Absolutely. People ask me all the time if I get nervous, and I always respond with, “I don’t know how to be nervous.” It’s a huge blessing.BRO – What’s the secret behind making Future Stuff click?AG – Lots of caffeine? I think we’ve gotten to a point where we just know what we’re doing, and so we practice and write separately and then throw it all together when it’s time to play and record.BRO – Plans for a long player soon?AG – I hope so. I can’t wait to get more music out there.BRO – We are featuring “Blow Them All Away” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?AG – That’s my long song. It’s about finding that great love, the one that you know defies all odds and is the love that blows all those other loves out of the water.BRO – Got any plans to prevent burnout? I mean, your twentieth birthday will be here before you know it!AG – Hah! I talk about this all the time. It boils down to my ultimate goal – being happy. And, for now, and definitely for the near future, music makes me happy. But I definitely worry about burning out, because I am eighteen and have the back and shoulders of an eighty year old.Althea Grace will be celebrating the release of her new EP with a run of shows in Wisconsin and Chicago later this month. For more information on the new EP or where you can see Althea live, please check out her website.And be sure to take a listen to “Blow Them All Away,” along with other great tracks from Youth In A Roman Field, The Captain of Sorrow, Jesse Marchant, Big Star, and more on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

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Trail Mix – Steep Canyon Rangers Chat & Ticket Giveaway!

first_imgMany years ago, while still living in Charlottesville, a buddy of mine buzzed me and made a simple query . . . . Want to go see this bluegrass band at the Prism Coffeehouse tonight?I did, we went, and I have been a fan of that band that neither of us had ever heard of before – Steep Canyon Rangers – for nearly twenty years now.Two decades later, the Rangers have established themselves as a bluegrass force, playing to appreciative crowds across the country, touring and recording with legendary comedian Steve Martin, and garnering multiple awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association and a Grammy for their 2012 release Nobody Knows You.This week, the band celebrates the release of its brand new record, Out In The Open, with a special hometown show in Asheville.Trail Mix caught up with banjo player Graham Sharp to chat about the new record, band changes, and their record release show this weekend.BRO – You guys are well into your second decade as a band. Is there any way to explain how what began as a hobby, and now includes a Grammy, turned into a career?GS – When you really enjoy something, putting in the hours, the months, the years doesn’t feel like work. This career is a blessing, and has its own challenges, but being there with this group of guys, I can’t help but remember how far we’ve come and still have to go.BRO – With Charlie leaving, the band experienced its first significant personnel shake up in a long time. What does your new bassist, Barrett Smith, bring to the group?GS – Barrett has been part of the Steep Canyon Ranger extended family since the band was founded, so it’s kind of like our favorite uncle just moved in with us and brought a suitcase full of musical brilliance and personal warmth.BRO – You will feature members of the Asheville Symphony at your release show. How big is the jump from bluegrass to symphonic arrangements?GS – We’ve been working with an arrange named Jonathan Sacks, who has worked on the Toy Story movies and with Metallica, to really integrate the symphony sound with ours. It basically feels like normal, except with a freight train of sound at your back.BRO – We are featuring “Going Midwest” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?GS – I wrote “Going Midwest” a year or two ago, and it is loosely based on Nick from The Great Gatsby. We had been playing it all sorts of ways, but one day Mike Ashworth and Woody were playing it, just the two of them in this large, tiled locker room backstage somewhere. The sound was big and beautiful and it’s how we’ve done it ever since.BRO – Got anything special in store for the hometown crowd this weekend?GS – We’re going to put on a high energy show, and we’ve got a couple new tricks up our sleeves. We’ll get everybody dancing and warmed up this weekend. River Whyless, an amazing young band from Western North Carolina, is opening the show, so get there early!Steep Canyon Rangers take to this stage of the Explore Asheville.com Arena this Saturday, January 27th, and you can snag a pair of tickets right here! Take a shot at the trivia question down below. Send your answer to dave@blueridgeoutdoors.com. A winner of two tickets to the show will be chosen from all correct answers received by 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, January 25th!Trivia Question . . . . I dug way back for this one. From the song “Call The Captain,” off the band’s 2008 release Lovin’ Pretty Women, where does the narrator say he won’t be going?For more information on Steep Canyon Rangers, the new record, and where near you their tour might be bringing them, surf on over to the band’s website.Be sure to check out “Going Midwest,” along with tracks from Luthi, Ben Miller Band, David Myles, and Heather Maloney on this month’s Trail Mix.Photo by Jimmy Warshamlast_img read more

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Outdoor Updates: The Conservation Alliance changes leadership

first_imgA new leader will take the helm of The Conservation Alliance on November 1. Brady Robinson has been named the latest executive director of the alliance, a collective of businesses that support the efforts of grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where people recreate. Brady takes over from John Sterling, who served on the board of the organization since 1996 and became the first executive director in 2004. The Conservation Alliance changes leadership, Brady Robinson to serve as executive director “I am incredibly honored and excited to have the opportunity to help lead this organization,” Robinson said. “With a crystal clear mission, 30-year history and healthy financial foundation, The Conservation Alliance is perfectly positioned to grow and play an even greater role in protecting wild places.” One of Robinson’s first responsibilities will be participating in the organization’s three-year strategic planning retreat with a goal of identifying long-term intentions for the organization.  Robinson was selected for the role after a nine-month search. He has many years as a conservationist, climber, and educator, including more than a decade at Outward Bound and 11 years at the Access Fund, which keeps climbing areas preserved and open for climbing. He was also the founding board chair of the Outdoor Alliance, a coalition partner with The Conservation Alliance. In his most current role, he served as Director of Strategy and Development for Tompkins Conservation, which creates land and marine national parks in South America.center_img Robinson spent his childhood in rural Minnesota. Trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area instilled in him a lifelong love of the outdoors. Robinson grew to be an accomplished climber and alpinist, with first ascents in both Patagonia and Pakistan.  Since The Conservation Alliance began in 1989, it has awarded 650 grants of over $22 million to protect more than 52 million acres of wildlands and 3,112 miles of river. The alliance has also stopped or removed 34 dams, designated five marine reserves and purchased 14 climbing areas.last_img read more

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Quake Destroyed 50 Percent Of Haiti GDP

first_img The quake that ravaged Haiti over six weeks ago destroyed up to 50 percent of the Caribbean nation’s gross domestic product, President Rene Preval said Thursday. “This earthquake … led to the deaths of 200,000 to 300,000 people and destroyed from 35 to 50 percent of the GDP,” Preval said. “What is important now is to strengthen the Haitian government,” said Lula, adding to the Haitian people: “at this moment of pain, at this moment of desperation, we must lift our heads up.” He was speaking as he met with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at a UN-Brazilian military base in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, which was ravaged by the January 12 7.0-magnitude quake. center_img By Dialogo February 26, 2010 He also called on the international community to cancel Haiti’s debt.last_img read more

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Rescuers Rush for Quake Survivors

first_img China takes on excavation effort The China International Search and Rescue Team, the country’s main earthquake-rescue organization, will invest almost $15 million this year to more than double its capabilities, The Guardian newspaper reported. This investment follows the magnitude 7.9 Sichuan earthquake that killed about 70,000 people in China in 2008. “We will be able to send more teams to operations overseas and that’s one of the reasons we are expanding,” said Huang Jiafa, a division director at the Chinese Earthquake Administration. Currently, China is the country with the most urban search-and-rescue teams in the world, according to humanitarian news site ReliefWeb. China’s 50-member rescue team arrived in Haiti within the 72 “golden hours” — the most crucial time period for saving lives following natural disasters. The team immediately began working upon arrival in Port-au-Prince’s Carrefour neighborhood, one of the hardest-hit areas, according to the China Earthquake Administration, or CEA. They retrieved more than 20 bodies. At the ruins of the headquarters of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, the Chinese team recovered the bodies of seven staff members, including mission chief Hedi Annabi and his chief deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa. They also dug up eight of their own peacekeeping officers assigned to the mission before the earthquake. Despite having sophisticated equipment, rescuers had to handle most of the excavation at the U.N. building by hand because its position halfway up a hill limited the use of machines, an official at the CEA told the Xinhua news agency. China’s other contributions included a 40-member medical team and an improvised mobile hospital, where about 2,500 injured people were treated, Jiafa said. More than 60 international urban search-and-rescue teams rushed to Haiti after it was pummeled by the earthquake on January 12, 2010. Elite international rescuers, security and medical personnel arrived first in the demolished capital Port-au-Prince, working under extreme conditions to find survivors, according to the United Nations. Veteran urban search-and-rescue teams from Mexico, China, France, Israel, Qatar and South Africa embodied the world’s urgent call-to-action to assist the people of Haiti. Mexico’s ‘Moles’ prove courageous After a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck Mexico City in 1985, one of the world’s most respected search-and-rescue teams – the International Rescue Brigade of Tlatelolco-Azteca – emerged from the ruins. Los Topos, or “The Moles,” was formed in the absence of a professional rapid-response team as frantic residents of the Tlatelolco community banded together to rescue their families and neighbors. Almost 25 years later, Los Topos has three delegations in Mexico: in Tlatelolco, Cancun and Vera Cruz. It also has a delegation in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a volunteer Los Topos rescuer, Fernando Alvaro Bravo, told Diálogo. The volunteers are trained by experts from Israel and France and have deployed to disaster sites around the world, including New York City; San Salvador, El Salvador; Taiwan; Bam, Iran; and Abruzzi, Italy. Equipped with mallets and knives as their primary tools, they set out to join earthquake rescue missions using their own money or through private donations. “We are going to offer our best on behalf of the Mexican people,” Héctor Méndez, one of the founders of Los Topos, told the Agence France-Presse news agency. In January, a 25-member contingent equipped with sniffer dogs, first-aid responders and a demolition crew arrived in Haiti within 48 hours. Another veteran rescuer and group leader, Carlos Morales, worked alongside his 24-year old daughter, as a show of family courage in the face of strangers’ despair. In the two weeks following the earthquake, Los Topos rescued more than a dozen victims, including Ena Zizi, a 69-year-old Haitian woman trapped beneath the ruins of a church for seven days. Six and a half weeks after Haiti’s quake, Los Topos rushed to the rescue again after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged Chile. By Dialogo April 01, 2010 French team makes a miracle rescue France demonstrated its solidarity with Haiti by immediately deploying three military planes carrying 100 firefighters and gendarmes, in addition to humanitarian aid. The urban search-and-rescue teams from France worked incessantly to find survivors even after the Haitian government called off the search, stating there was little hope of finding anyone alive 11 days after the capital was reduced to rubble. The rescuers stubbornly pressed on in favor of holding out for one last miracle rescue. Amazingly, 15 days after the quake, rescuer Claude Fuilla walked along the unstable roof of a collapsed home, heard the faint voice of 17-year-old Darlene Etienne and spotted her dust-covered black hair in the rubble. The dying teenager was rescued within 45 minutes, The Associated Press reported. “I don’t think she could have survived even a few more hours,” Fuilla said. Etienne’s rescue defied the odds of finding anyone alive after so long. Authorities say it is rare for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water, let alone more than two weeks, but she reportedly had access to water from a bathroom. center_img Israeli field hospital saves thousands Battlefield experience has made the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, National Search and Rescue Unit an international elite team. Since its inception in 1983, the unit has worked in disaster zones in Mexico, Argentina, Armenia, Kenya, Turkey and elsewhere. A 220-member IDF medical and rescue team arrived in Haiti within 36 hours after the earthquake. It began its operations near the ruins of the U.N. headquarters in Port-au-Prince and worked with local authorities to find survivors in other disaster-stricken areas. The team also built a field hospital with operating rooms and a maternity and children’s ward, within a record time of 10 hours. The medical team treated more than 1,100 patients, conducted 319 successful surgeries and delivered 16 babies, including three by Cesarean section according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The sights here are very difficult and you need a lot of mental fortitude,” said Gali Wiest, the delegation’s head nurse, as reported in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. “We’ve already taken in 87 children, most in moderate to serious condition; there have been a few operations and amputations, and they keep coming.” Wiest spoke of the survival of an infant boy who was trapped under the rubble for five days and lay in a state of shock in the children’s ward: “His parents aren’t here — perhaps they are dead — but the Israeli nurses caress him and give him a warm bottle of milk.” The IDF team concluded its two-week stay on January 27, 2010, and patients needing further care, as well as orphans and premature babies, were transferred to other field hospitals and to the U.S. Navy Ship Comfort. Emirate assistance beyond Arab world Qatar’s Internal Security Force, which provided emergency relief after the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the Mauritania floods in 2007, also provided support to Haiti. It was the first time the Gulf emirate deployed an urban search-and-rescue team outside the Arab world, The National newspaper reported. “This is a long way for us to come and the first time we have left our region,” Capt. Mubarak al-Kaabi, the team’s leader, told The National. “But help means helping everybody, not just Arabic people.” A 26-person rescue team of soldiers, police and medical professionals scoured the Haitian capital for survivors. The team also set up a makeshift field hospital on the outskirts of the city, in Cité Soleil, where doctors treated more than 500 victims. They performed rudimentary operations, set broken limbs and cleaned festering wounds. “We’re putting limbs in splints and giving out antibiotics, but some of the infections are very bad and need to be treated many times,” Mootaz Ali, an orthopedic surgeon, told The National. “Some patients are not even able to take the antibiotics we give them because they don’t have access to water.” South African efforts undeterred A 10-member team from the South African Gift of the Givers Foundation, the largest African disaster relief organization, arrived in Haiti three days after the earthquake. They worked an area that no team had yet reached, Xinhua reported. “The devastation was mind boggling, with no sign of life, only a litter of corpses and the sick stench of decomposed bodies along the way,” foundation chairman Imtiaz Sooliman said. “The first stop was a Catholic mission, totally destroyed; five bodies were recovered. At another site nine more bodies were recovered,” Sooliman said. The rescuers, skilled in disaster response, search and rescue, and advanced life support, traveled by land from the Dominican Republic, and were later escorted by U.N. helicopters when road access was blocked. They extricated five survivors from a collapsed hospital in Port-au-Prince. “After 2.5 hours of intense activity, team leader Ahmed Bham, together with our Mexican partners, rescued a 60-year-old lady, she being the first of five survivors,” the organization said in a statement. The team also cleared the hospital of 600 bodies so it could resume operations.last_img read more

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