SAMU First Response Attends The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster Conference

SAMU First Response had the privilege of attending the National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) Conference that occurred on May 6 to May 9, 2024 in Phoenix, AZ. VOAD was formed over 50 years ago in response to many challenges that disaster organizations experienced with the duplication of efforts and many needs unmet in a disaster. Since then, VOAD has been founded as a forum for sharing knowledge and coordinating resources throughout the disaster cycle: preparation, response, and recovery. The four-day conference provided an opportunity for organizations active in disaster to learn from the experience of others who are working towards the same goal of helping others.

At the conference, our staff members were able to participate in lectures and discussions that ranged from sustainable recovery efforts and the importance of community involvement to practical insights into managing FEMA grants and innovative approaches for non-profits. Workshops emphasized collaboration, effective communication, and the involvement of diverse stakeholders in supporting affected families and communities. There were also workshops that explored the latest developments in disaster case management, Multi-Agency Resource Centers, and no-cost training resources to enhance operational capabilities.

The 2024 National VOAD Conference was a testament to the dedication and collaboration within the disaster response community. Our team members left with not only enhanced knowledge, but also valuable connections that will undoubtedly strengthen our work in disaster relief and recovery.

Washington, D.C. Nonprofit Provides Relief During Texas Wildfires

Hutchinson County, Texas – The fires that have killed at least two people and scorched nearly 1.3 million acres of land in the Texas Panhandle are still raging. First responders and those displaced by the disaster are getting some relief from a SAMU First Response volunteer team sent from Washington, D.C., to help meet ongoing needs in the region.

Today, our Texas volunteer team has split time between two sites. At the first, a donation and distribution site located at The Dome Civic and Convention Center in Borger, SAMU’s  fully bilingual team has been able to support impacted residents with supplies.

“What we are seeing is trucks coming with ALL kinds of goods,” Mission Lead Borja González Escalada said. “There is no one showing up with just one box, but pallets of water, diapers, hand soap, new clothing and cleanup supplies. This is being distributed to the people so they have all they need for weeks.”

At a second site in nearby Canadian, SAMU team members received, organized and distributed farm supplies, including hay and feed resources, as well as fencing supplies. According to the Texas Department of Agriculture, about 85% of the state’s more than four jmillion cattle are located in the area. In some counties across the panhandle, the department reports that cattle population far exceeds people.

“The livelihoods of many cattle farmers in the area have been severely impacted by the fires,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. “These fires not only threaten lives and property but will also have a substantial impact on our agriculture industry.”

Although four wildfires have been contained in Cass, Red River, Wood and Tyler Counties, active wildfires in Gray, Hutchinson, Moore and Oldham counties continue to burn. Most are between 55 and 85 percent contained, but the largest, the Smokehouse Creek Fire in Hutchinson County is about 15 percent contained. That blaze has become the largest wildfire in the state’s history and is estimated to have consumed a total of 1,076,638 acres. On Saturday, the Texas A&M Forest Service responded to four new requests for assistance with approximately 37 acres of wildfires burning across the state. Strong winds on Sunday prompted another evacuation in Sanford, Texas.

La Caixa Foundation donates € 10,000 TO SAMU Foundation to assist in their reconstruction mission in Nepal

La Caixa Social Work has donated € 10,000 to the SAMU Foundation, contributing to SAMU’s mission in Nepal. They have been present at the signing of Insausti July D. Bono, Director of the Business Center of the Caixa and Dr. Carlos Alvarez Leiva, President of SAMU, who thanked Caixa for their support of the SAMU Foundation.

This donation will help rebuild an orphanage and create an assistance campaign for children of the orphanage and for populations in the surrounding areas. Therefore, SAMU will create an advanced medical area to help those in need. 

On May 11, the first team of SAMU health professionals left for Kathmandu with 300 kg in humanitarian necessities. 
With 5,500 units donated by Menarini Group analgesics of Spain and 300 kg of medical equipment, the SAMU team will help the wounded and the refugees of the recent earthquakes in Nepal.

SAMU sent the first medical personnnel and equipment to Kathmandu

Our first team left on Monday for Kathmandu with 6 toilets and 300 kg in humanitarian action.

About 5,500 units donated by Menarini Group analgesics Spain, together with 300 kg of medical supplies, equipment SAMU takes to help the wounded and refugees of the earthquakes that have recently taken place in Nepal. This work will target victims at increased risk such as children, orphans, disabled and chronically, especially vulnerable.

The director of the School of Emergency SAMU, Juan Gonzalez, said “these drugs are vital in the area, since its analgesic capacity is very suitable for aiding the injuries caused by catastrophes: fractures, amputations, crushing, etc … Our medical equipment is first intervention drugs, generators, multifunctional elements, transmissions and logistical resources Primea.”

Dr. Carlos Alvarez Leiva, president of SAMU, said that “our work in other missions such as the Philippines, Haiti, Indonesia, etc … has been to restore destroyed hospitals, attend to the wounded, provide babysitting, classify patients, offer primary care, and improve pediatric healthcare … with strict control of our actions under the guidance of the UN. “

“Our professionals, doctors, nurses, technicians, and pharmacists are specially trained to work in conditions of austerity, in impossible scenarios, have a balanced psychological profile and are prepared to face uncertainties. Our team’s skills go beyond just providing assistance: we are also experts in health organization and logistics”, says Carlos Alvarez.

The third contingent sent to the Philippines continues saving lives

The third contingent of Fundacion Samu sent to the Philippines came to value a man who as volunteers of the NGO commented Gualandi Volunteer Service Programme, working in the area (San Remigio, Cebu), had 16 subject tied to a tree and unaware of the motif.

When the team arrived to the area to assess it, this man was in the middle of the jungle with a foot trapped between two logs that allowed him to move but not be straight. The physical examination was normal and noted that he was careful as the mother would wash him and gave him water and rice.

After assessing the man named Ben, volunteers met with the family to find out why Ben’s behavior. The story told by family and behaviors Ben was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was prescribed a treatment that the NGO will provide.

He was taken to hospital where he spent the night and was discharged with medication. He is currently with his family at home that volunteers have rebuilt since it was damaged by the typhoon.

Maria Dolores Romero, SAMU psychiatrist, says that “the reason why the family was tied by ignorance and fear of the attitude that was showing Ben. In countries like the Philippines, especially in disadvantaged areas, there is no adequate mental health care and a significant lack of knowledge about mental illnesses that make people with a mental disorder are in inhuman conditions.”