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British Red Cross international aid team joins Haiti relief effort

Friday January 15, 2010
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Sharon Reader:

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The British Red Cross are sending out an emergency logistics team to help get much needed aid into Haiti.
The team, who between them have experience of the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, the Bam Earthquake in Iran in 2003 and last year’s earthquake in Indonesia, are flying out tomorrow [16/1/10] to help move the aid and equipment through to people.

The team comprises air operations expert David Stevens (67), Emily Knox (36), team leader Peter Pearce (37), and Theo Kallinteris (44), who is joining the team from Spain.

The team are flying to the Dominican Republic to begin the task of organising aid arriving in response to the devastating earthquake in neighbouring Haiti.

David Stevens, who spent 23 years with the Royal Air Force, expects to spend between four and six weeks in the region, says he will initially be deployed near the Dominican Republic’s main airport at Santo Domingo, helping to get much needed aid into neighbouring Haiti.

He says: “Our plan will be to get the aid into Haiti, where the airport is operating again, but under a lot of pressure. We may look to alternative ways of getting it in there like by sea and air, perhaps using helicopters. Our job will be to stop aid getting held up, identify the stocks we have and how we can best move it. We specialise in warehousing so we will be using portable warehouses – 24 metres by 10 metres – to protect it, account for it and work with the people coordinating the relief effort.”

The Haitian Red Cross also has pre-positioned relief supplies for 3,000 families in Haiti, with supplies for thousands more in the nearby regional warehouse in Panama. These emergency supplies consist of kitchen kits, personal hygiene kits, blankets, tarpaulins and containers for storing drinking water.

David will be there in an air operations role, which means being at the airport and receiving aid supplies as they arrive and then getting them onto trucks and to the warehouse where they’ll be organised for distribution to communities.

David has been a member of the Red Cross ERU (Emergency Response Unit) since 2000, and has responded to some of the biggest emergencies in the last 20 years, from the Bam Earthquake in Iran in 2003 to Hurricane Ivan in Grenada in 2004 and then the Tsunami in 2004 and the Pakistan Earthquake in 2005. He also worked in Java, Indonesia, Kenya in 2006 and Uganda in 2007.

David says that while he always has concerns in advance of a deployment, it has become a way of life for him.

He says: “I’d rather be helping than sitting here reading about it. It’s very distressing, no doubt about it, but you have to get on with the job. All the other specialist teams are doing their jobs too and it does come together on a Red Cross level and an international level across the board.

“Consistent with most other disasters I’ve been to out of the chaos does come order but it takes time.”

Before joining the Red Cross, David spent 23 years in the Royal Airforce and 16 years with British Aerospace. David retired in 2000.

For David the most important thing to remember when heading into a disaster zone is to work closely with the local Red Cross society, “We need to work alongside the local Red Cross. They have all the local knowledge and will have already been responding to the emergency for days.”

“My role is to work quickly and efficiently to get the things to people they need to survive – like shelter, medical treatment and food and water.”

Despite officially being retired, David has no intentions of giving up his role, “As long as I have the health, energy and purpose to do something worthwhile I will. Everybody has the capacity to make a difference – especially people back in the UK who can donate to the appeal, even if it’s just a pound it will help a family who have lost everything.”

To make a donation to the DEC Haiti appeal visit or call 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque made payable to ‘DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal’ to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA’.

Examples of what donations will go to include:
• £25 will supply a kit of household essentials.
• £50 buys a food pack to feed a family for a fortnight.
• £100 provides temporary shelter for two families.


Notes to Editors

Please find attached photographs of David Stevens in Indonesia in 2009.
For more information on the British Red Cross recovery operations, please visit

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.