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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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Home for TR

Team Rubicon now has its own home at teamrubiconusa.org. This site will revert back to its original use as Jake's Life blog.

Please visit teamrubiconusa.org for everything Haiti and Team Rubicon related, including the new documentary trailer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Commenting Temporarily Disabled

We've temporarily disabled commenting on the Team Rubicon blog while we move to a new content management platform on a new host. We hope to have this process completed today. Thank you for your patience.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rubicon Reunion

Dr. Eduardo Dolhun reunites with Jeff Lang and Craig Parello while travelling to Milwaukee, WI on business.

Bathelmy and Sterlande

100213 Bathelmy and Sterlande


The name of the young man from Manresa is Bathelmy, or Bartholemew, and I commend him to you for your prayers and good thoughts. We found him at last, at the refugee camp this morning. His family name is Silencieux, he is eighteen years old, and he is left-handed. He used to be a construction worker. On January 12th, he was at work when the earthquake struck Haiti. The building he was in collapsed, partially burying him under cinderblocks and trapping his right hand under the corner of a heavy table. He was pulled from the rubble with his hand crushed, and learned that his mother was dead. The next few days were like a bad dream for him. His hand was bandaged by a Haitian doctor the next day, but the doctor had no medicines, no anesthetics, and no way to properly treat the injury. Bathelmy’s sister Sterlande took care of him, but they had very little water and less food. Bathelmy stayed at a place a short distance from the Manresa camp, but he came to the camp each day because Sterlande told him that the Catholic priests would send doctors to the camp as soon as anyone came to help. When our team arrived, he was the first patient we saw. Bathelmy remembered me, and Brother Jim, and Jake, and he remembered our efforts taking care of him and getting him to a hospital. The pain and swelling in his crushed hand eased soon after we treated him, but the surgeons were unable to operate on him for another two days because of the number of patients and the shortage of doctors. When they were finally able to operate on him, they amputated his hand. He survived the operation and the wound is healing appropriately. He no longer has pain in his arm and he will see a doctor again in five days. He was very, very grateful for everything Rubicon was able to do for him. “That [the first day Rubicon came to Manresa] was the first day I felt like I was alive again. I wish you would be here every day.”


100212 Searching

The earthquake happened thirty days ago today.

Haiti's president declared that today is the first of three days'
mourning and remembrance. The US Embassy, most UN offices, and every
official building (of those that are still standing) was closed today.
And as far as I could tell, the vast majority of Haitian citizens did
NOT stay home. They dressed in the best clothing they could assemble,
and walked to church. And there they stayed for the better part of
the day, preaching, listening, mourning, singing, and remembering.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reflections from Brother Jim

After the last of Team Rubicon left the country my focus has changed from medical to educational. There are now over 40 camps of refugees in Port au Prince with population estimates ranging from 240,000 to 600,000. Each of these camps are filled with children who have been away from school for about a month and wonder aimlessly with little to keep them occupied. Last week some of us were talking about the possibility of setting up refugee schools for these kids, and two days later the Jesuit Province was behind the idea. Foi et Joie, the school system I work for, will be setting up camp schools in three of the largest areas of displaced people in the city. Our estimates are that we will be educating around 7,000 students, something that even raised the eyebrows of our friends over at UNICEF.

As you can imagine, the planning going into this is enormous, and includes recruiting teachers, requesting funding, meeting with other NGO’s, securing tents, classroom materials, and everything else that any school would have. At times it seems overwhelming, but I do have confidence in our team and the products of Fe y Alegria around the world. One walk through the camps lets me see firsthand the tremendous need in the educational area, and rekindles the hope that some of these emergency schools might grow into something permanent.

Following the Water Trail

100211 Following the water trail

Today was simply delightful! I got to give away presents, hung out
with Brother Jim, got a hug and a kiss from Gary Cagle's nine-year-old
daughter Rachel (via a small pillow pre-loaded with 1000@ hugs and
kisses), and generally did a bunch of miscellaneous and hopefully
useful stuff. The day's focus was on proceeding forward with the
refugee schools, but mostly what Jim and I did was hang out and drive
around, which was just fine with me. He's been doing sustained
disaster relief ops for 30 days, so getting stuck in traffic for most
of the day might have been a welcome change of pace. (Of course, he
was stuck in traffic with ME, so by tomorrow he will probably be
begging to get back to gangrenous wounds and mortuary transport.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Team Rubicon member Mark Hayward returns to Haiti

Mark Hayward, a former Army Special Forces medic, returned to Haiti today to provide follow-on medical care to the patients he cared for over two weeks ago. While this is neither an official Team Rubicon mission, nor funded by Team Rubicon, Hayward returned to Port-au-Prince through his own fund-raising effort. "Mark's personal mission wasn't complete without ensuring his patients received follow-on wound care to prevent gangrene and sepsis. I've seen doctors come to Mark for medical advice. When Team Rubicon deploys to the next disaster, this is the guy you immediately call upon, if he hasn't already beat you to the punch by volunteering first." says Team Rubicon co-founder William McNulty. His most recent update is below:

0210 Rue de miracles

Written from the novitiate house at 3AM on Thursday morning.

I set out to reach here, 24 hours ago. It is miraculous that I have arrived, and I do not use the term lightly. It is also a testament to the inspired teamwork of SO many people! The experience also makes me hopeful, and humbles me. Nothing "I" am doing is being done by me alone -- and that gives me great comfort.

For starters, just getting me to the airport needs to be credited to my lovely bride. When the snow started falling, and she saw that I was torn between staying with her, and going forward, she said, "Get out of here; go do what you need to do." And, thereafter, buoyed up by Zak (working alternate flights), Graeme (ditto), Cammie (suggesting I try the Richmond airport), Cheryl (covering my shift), Jeremy (authorizing the swap), Cammie giving me en-route flight updates as I slushed down 95 towards Richmond), my dad (floating me the cash I needed to fund the whole massive mutating operation), and, oh yeah, Cammie (backing me up and staying positive as I traveled), I made it to Richmond.

Retracing my steps

It's 3AM on Thursday and I am back at the Jesuit novitiate in Port-au-Prince. I arrived here after a short drive from Petion-Ville, down Avenue John Brown, and across Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines. The only living things I saw afoot in the city were wild dogs, and there are plenty of them, looking sleek and well-fed. I also saw a fire burning in a dumpster, three enormous arc lights illuminating rows of dump trucks and earthmovers parked at three intersections, and occasional PNH vehicles. Other than that, nothing is moving. It's like being in a ghost town. Frankly, unsettling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TR working in DC

The show must go on

Despite blizzard conditions in Washington DC, Joylon Hoff of Third Story Films interviews Jake Wood, Clay Hunt, Dr David Griswell and William McNulty for an upcoming documentary. A film trailer will be released next week.

Clay and Jake Lobbying Congress for Veterans Rights

Small Earthquake Hits Near Chicago

A small earthquake in northern Illinois set off car alarms, knocked books off the shelves and jolted scores of people awake at 4 a.m. Wednesday, but otherwise caused no serious damage, officials said.

Wheels up for 2 more TR members

Gunny and Dee, the last two members of TR2 (minus Gary Cagle) departed Haiti Monday, and are back home safe and sound in New York. The folks in the attached picture (L to R) are: Edmund Lo (Jesuit Novice, and first "local recruit" to TR), Mac McCormick (Gunnery Sgt, USMC (R)), Dee Spina (RN), and JJ Aerulus (Haitian translator and all around good guy).

The picture was shot as they were heading out to the airport in a tap-tap. The only original members of Team Rubicon still in country are Brother Jim and Gary. Jim is doing his typical SJ stuff (currently setting up schools in the refugee camps), and Gary is now working for the WHO (He has been hired to "fix" the problems with their medical logistics warehouse and system here in Haiti). The mission continues....

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Milwaukee Bar Offers "Rubicon Shots"

Team Rubicon Co-Founder Jeff Lang walked into a random local bar this past week and found that the bar owner was supporting Team Rubicon in his own way, with "Team Rubicon Shots" out of a bottle of Jim Beam.

God Bless Milwaukee.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Hayward on SoMdNews.com

Acting on the urge to help victims in Haiti
Hayward offers treatment after quake

The devastating earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 12, was more than a news story for Mark Hayward. He saw the images on TV and immediately recognized places he had been, streets he has walked and thought of people he knew.

Hayward, an emergency medicine physician assistant at St. Mary's Hospital, worked in Haiti as a medical officer for a team of United States law enforcement personnel for three months in 2009.

"It was very personal," he said by phone this week from his home in King George, Va.

WKOW TV Interview with Jake Wood


Thursday, February 04, 2010

TR Members Head to Congress

In keeping with Team Rubicon's military heritage, TR members Clay Hunt and Jake Wood are heading to Washington DC this weekend for seven days of meetings with congressmen and senators.  While this is not a Team Rubicon sanctioned mission, be rest assured that Jake and Clay will represent what today's veterans are capable of achieving off the battlefield, and will make every inroad possible to ensure that Team Rubicon's model for disaster relief reaches the ears of those with the ability to take it to the next level.

Here's a link to the veteran's representing the IAVA in Washington LINK


Ladies and Gentlemem! It's time for the Team Rubicon army of supporters to unite once more!

Remember our little 'incident' with American Airlines? Where they initially charged me for extra bags full of medicine on my flight to Haiti? Well, because of your outcry they reversed those charges and wrote me (aka US!) a personal letter of apology.

One of a Kind Auction Proceeds to TR

Dear Friends,
I have exciting news from IDEX! Helen has decided to offer a one of a kind doll for auction. We wanted to give you the opportunity to have her for your very own. By bidding you'll be helping the relief efforts in Haiti as all proceeds from the winning bid will go to Team Rubicon. Read on to learn more. To take a peak at Baby Aisha click here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kishandcompany , or just visit the Photo Section and look for her name.

Jake Wood Interview

Hugh Hewitt talks with Team Rubicon co-creator Jake Wood about their recent mission to Haiti, and what their plans are for the future.

Click here to listen

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Triumphs in the midst of Tragedy, by Clay Hunt

WOW. Now that I have decompressed a little bit from our recent work in PaP, it's time for me to reflect a little on what we did, and try and hold on to the compassion and dedication that bonded us all together as members of Team Rubicon 1.

In the midst of the worst devastation and suffering I have ever seen (and I've seen enough to last me quite a while), I saw many awe-inspiring actions and events take place every single day, and almost every minute we were there. While I saw sadness, grief and despair far flung and widespread, I saw other things that gave me comfort and hope. I saw the smiles of hundreds of children, the gratitude of their parents and siblings, and feelings of peace and reassurance expressed by all of our patients. These people are suffering horribly, but we were able to bring them assurance: that there are people in the world who care enough about them that we are willing to risk our own health and safety just to come help them, and treat them in their darkest hour. We were able to bring peace to so many: the people who we met know that they will not be forgotten by the outside world, and that we will be there again when and where they need us. That was truly amazing to be a part of, and was humbling and reassuring to us all.

Dr. Fuchs Describes His Job at CDTI Hospital

hey jake,

thx for all your help . recall we arrived late in your tour about 2 -3 days before change over. i know mike and mike did great work out in the field. the hospital team myself,shane and nadege were able to get oriented with dr michele and essentially coordinated the or for our stay. we completed and estimated 80-100 surgical cases during our time .we treated both peds and adult cases and did alot of stabilizations,ex fix,fx plating,washouts and amputations. we appreciate your leadership and assistance. we departed with the asst of the airforce on a c16 and arrived at homestead afb fri

Paul Fuchs DO
Surgical Treatment of Spinal Disorders
Fort Myers,Fl

Rocklin firefighter returns from Haiti after 10 days of volunteering

ROCKLIN, CA — Zachary Smith, a Rocklin firefighter paramedic, returned Sunday from ten days of volunteer service in Haiti with Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon is a self-financed, all-volunteer, rapid response, medical rescue team. The former Marines, soldiers, firefighters/EMTs, medics, and nurses of Team Rubicon are all unpaid. The group of selfless volunteers from all over the country

Read Article here

View Slideshow from Zach

Dermafill: "This dressing is a life saver!"

As you know, Chasing Lions LLC donated $208,000 worth of Dermafill to the Haitian rescue effort. In addition to Dermafill, Chasing Lions also donated the services of our chief medical officer, Dr. Mauricio Consalter, as well as myself to assist in treating patients during this disaster. We spent a little over 1 week seeing a variety of patients with a multitude of injuries caused by the initial earthquake, and countless injuries caused by the poor living conditions that the Haitian people were forced to live in. Our donation and aid were given to a small team, Team Rubicon, who went out to the refugee camps and surrounding areas to treat those who were unable to get to medical facilities and had not received any medical treatment. I worked alongside several volunteer doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and medics; treating over 2,000 injured and countless sick Haitians. The medical professionals I worked beside all had great things to say about Dermafill. The most common observations regarding the product were: the pain reducing abilities; ease of application; versatility of use; elimination of dressing changes; vast reduction in need of follow up appointments; and ability to assure a clean and infection free wound until the wound healed.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

TR2 Discovers Executed Haitian Bodies

Warning: Graphic Photos
On January 28th, we were out searching for tent cities that were not receiving wound care. We were, thankfully, not having any luck. So we decided to stop by a Force Ten medical tent and offer assistance. We spoke with the Medical Director there, a delightful gentleman who happens to be a thoracic surgeon in Britain. They did not need our help and were planning to close early. They were seeing very few injuries and they weren't significant. He also stated that they had been hearing gunshots for several nights outside their headquarters. He thought that it reflected gang activities. He was of the opinion that his organization would stand down soon.

Mark Hayward Newspaper interview

Hospital's ER worker makes way to Haiti

Mark Hayward, an emergency medicine physician's assistant at St. Mary's Hospital's emergency room, is now in Port-au-Prince offering medical care to those injured in the earthquake in Haiti. He's a resident of King George, Va., and works for Medical Emergency Professionals, which staffs the emergency department at St. Mary's Hospital.

"We were providing the first medical care to several hundred badly injured civilians in a refugee encampment in the southeast part of the city today," Hayward reported by e-mail Monday night.

MEP is continuing to pay his salary, his fellow employees are covering his work shifts, Hayward wrote, and Mark Boucot, vice president at St. Mary's Hospital, donated the medical supplies that he took to Haiti, via Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

"I am working with a completely grassroots team of volunteers (mostly ex-military)," he wrote. "Today we completely expended those supplies taking care of patients … We are burning through cash and supplies and we have no end of work to do down here … if you can airdrop me an orthopedic surgeon, a portable X-ray machine, and a complete set of casting/splinting/amputation equipment, I'd very much appreciate it."

An account of the work of the team Hayward is with is at badgerjake.blogspot.com.

"We are down to making splints out of cardboard boxes and very nearly spent the night on the streets … because we had critically injured patients (for example a kid with a pelvic fracture that had been untreated since the earthquake) that we couldn't treat on our own and couldn't in any conscience just leave behind," Hayward wrote. "We are staying at a Jesuit novitiate house near the airport (people can … donate to Jesuit Refugee Services but they need to specify that the donations are for the work of Brother Jim Boynton in Haiti). Please excuse me as I need to get cleaned up and repacked so we can go out again at the crack of dawn tomorrow."

Hayward wrote that the security situation is not as dangerous as has been portrayed in some media reports. "No civil unrest, minimal bad behavior, and on the whole I am very impressed with the way the people are conducting themselves. But there is unprecedented need here right now."

TR 2 Member Zach Smith on Hugh Hewitt Interview

Hugh spends parts of three segments speaking with Roseville, California firefighter Zack Smith about his trip to Haiti as part of the Team Rubicon mission.

Listen to interview here

Monday, February 01, 2010

Email List

If you are interested in following Team Rubicon as we continue to grow, please sign up for our email newsletter on the right margin of the screen as you scroll down. Additionally, you can subscribe to an RSS feed, also located along the right margin.

Thanks, and continue sharing us with your friends and family!

Reflections of my mission in Haiti with Bravo Team Rubicon, by Gregg LaVeau RN

As I sit here at home in my kitchen, with diet Dr Pepper in hand (no diet DP in Haiti), and reflect on my time in Haiti I am humbled by the memories. Memories of sights, sounds, feelings and smells. Memories of a Haitian people devastated by the destruction of their homes and villages. Memories of my teammates, now friends, one and all.

Article on Catholic.org

Haiti Disaster Proves Value of Small Rapid-Response Medical Teams
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) – Emergency preparedness specialists will be studying this development for a long time to come. What began as a conversation on Facebook became a small rapid-response emergency medical team – Team Rubicon – on the ground in Haiti.

Jake Wood, president of Team Rubicon, reported on his blog that the UN and Red Cross have reached full speed in logistical support, food and water are being delivered and hospitals are able to handle the medical mission.

click here to read the full article

On the Way Home

Greg, Robin, and Griz

Film documentary coming soon!

A professionally produced YouTube trailer from Fifth Man Films and Third Story Films, in association with TitleTen Films, which will be followed by a full documentary.  A revenue sharing agreement has been reached which directs all of TitleTen's profits (net legal expenses) to Team Rubicon.