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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stacking Marbles by Mark Hayward

100124 Haiti: stacking marbles

OK, you're a Haitian. You have a spinal fracture that will leave you paralyzed even IF you receive the best medical care in the world. You will then live the rest of your life in a society with no social security disability pensions, no medicare/medicaid, no free wheelchairs, no power wheelchairs, and very little pavement on which to DRIVE a wheelchair even if you can find one. However, if you do not receive this medical care, you will die. Which do you want?

Those are questions for doctors. My job is just to find transportation for spinal cord patients. And OR drapes. And an autoclave. And fentanyl. And disposable plates. And mattress pads. And a portable CT scanner. And asthma meds.

We did a lot of good things today. And these are the questions that remain.

How do I apply the principle of "the greatest good for the greatest number" to this situation?

Mark Hayward


  1. Wondering who wrote this post?

    It must be so discouraging not to have the items at hand you desperately need.

    Doesn't USAID have these supplies? Aren't you as an NGO eligible to receive them?

    This is all very confusing......So much money being donated, supplies delivered to Haiti, and the bureaucracy holding up the delivery.

  2. The hardest thing to wrap your head around for if you haven't been on the inside of an ER (as a responder, not a patient), let alone in a mass casualty incident is that there are often logistical limitations. So many of us can't imagine a location with no roads, no order, no basics.

    You are doing amazing work in horrendous circumstances. I'm grateful that the KABC reporter found you and brought us your story so we can pray for you. I pray that you'll make the best possible individual and group decisions and that you'll have peace, even in the wake of hard decisions.

  3. Hello to Sheila Stam from her friends in Kenya. Praying for you all! Eric

  4. Those questions sometimes don't get answers...and then you know it's out of your hands. You guys are really, really doing super. I have to say that I wish I could be there to help.

    Typepad not working...

  5. Is anybody writing this all down for a manual? This won't be the last disaster we'll see.

  6. U do what you can, the best that you can, to the best of your ability & "change" what u can. It's fine to have compassion for your fellow man but you didn't cause their pain & suffering, an earthquake did. 1 day you can ask the man upstairs why, face to face & hopefully his answer then will give you some peace.....
    Until then, you are their only hope. Stay strong.

  7. Still praying strength, wisdom, safety and now health to you workers in Haiti.

  8. Mark, you can only do what you can, the rest is in the hands of God. I'm praying for all of you and thank God you are there doing His work.

  9. You take your best guess and do the best you can. Teddy Roosevelt said it better:

    "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, becaust there is no effort without error and shortoming ... who spends himself in a worthy cause;"

    It's from a speech now known as "The Man in the Arena."

    You are in it. You can do no wrong compared to those who aren't, compared to critics who point out how the stong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

  10. And to think that in many other countries so many of these things are also lacking...think of ct scan...almost unheard of in west africa.

    good luck using the limited resources to serve many. look at the individuals you can do the most for too. the spinal cord injuries are tough cases...but there are so many other cases in which you guys/gals are making a HUGE difference!