Earle Mack is more than just the name on the law school at Drexel University. Ambassador Mack is a successful businessman and philanthropist who, following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, felt called to act quickly and strategically.
Ambassador Mack knew that getting supplies and medical personnel into Haiti would require extraordinary energy and determination. If there were some way to accelerate the process of getting trauma physicians, surgeons, and medical supplies into the country to help save even one life, he felt, it would be worth the cost and effort.
Mack began making calls and hasn’t stopped working the phones yet. Since the earthquake struck, he has spent many hours coordinating efforts, relying on some of the government connections he made when he was the U.S. ambassador to Finland.
“Obtaining a landing spot has been next to impossible,” he noted. “You just have to be patient.”
His patience paid off. Jets chartered by Mack are now transporting doctors and medical supplies into the main airport in Haiti. From there, they are being transported by helicopter to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles, Haiti, a facility some 90 miles north of Port-au-Prince that was unharmed by the natural disaster.
The first two planes—one carrying five surgeons, two surgeon assistants, and Mack—and the other loaded with more than 1,000 pounds of medical supplies—landed in Haiti on Sunday, Jan. 17. The second set of flights left for Haiti on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
“If you could save one life or even one limb by getting an extra physician or trauma surgeon there in time, the whole trip is worthwhile,” said Mack, who had never been to Haiti prior to accompanying the first of his charter planes there Jan. 17. “It is a terrible situation and the faster you act, the more lives you are going to save. I just felt that as a public servant, I had to do what I could.”
Using contacts within the medical profession, Mack arranged for the surgeons and physicians to come from all parts of the U.S. to assist him. One of the biggest concerns of the volunteers, who will face some of the same health risks and food shortages plaguing the Haitian people, was how they would get out of the country once their service was complete. Once again, Mack stepped up and promised to send planes to bring them home.
While Mack is funding and coordinating the mission, he said his part is not nearly as heroic as that of the volunteers and those who are providing the supplies going to Haiti. “They don’t know where they will stay or whether there will be food for them, but they are so dedicated. They just want to go and save lives. They are the real heroes.”
Mack said he plans to continue his flights to Haiti as long as they are needed. He hopes, he said, other operations will become more streamlined and organized within the next week so that his efforts will no longer be necessary. “Time is of essence. I see this as a window until the situation is stabilized,” Mack said.
Mack said he is not surprised by the millions of dollars and other forms of assistance pouring into Haiti from other countries, especially the U.S. “This country was born with the ethic of wanting to help,” Mack said. Mack is proud to be in a position to do just that, citing the ancient quote that “whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
We extend our thanks to The Blood-Horse Magazine for their help in reporting this story.