Haitian Trip

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March 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

Tent/tarp drive to help during rainy season A trip to Haiti following January’s earthquake may be over for Rockford Police officer Derek “Duke” Haan, but his changed perspective will stay with him for a lifetime. So will his determination to help Haitians, which he shares with Rockford in a tarp and tent drive he hopes residents will use to offer their help to people of the struggling country. Before joining the Rockford Police Department 18 years ago, Haan was a Rockford Ambulance paramedic. He is cousins with Tim Ryan, who founded Haitineedsyou years ago, a Haitian relief organization. With regular trips to Haiti to improve the conditions of natives of that impoverished country, Ryan had a team in place bound to leave when the earthquake hit that devastated the nation. “He did a complete turnaround and switched out the people who were scheduled to go with medical trauma people,” Haan reported. Knowing Haan’s background in the medical field, Ryan asked if he would be interested in joining the crew. Haan had never been on a mission trip and was nervous about the prospect. “I didn’t know if I was the right person to go. As a paramedic, we take people to the doctor and to the care they need. We don’t provide that level of medical care that doctors do,” he said. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he should go and do what he could. “Who else is there? Who else is going to do it?” He talked to his wife about going, knowing that the country is still far from safe. The prison system is in total collapse and the Haitian police have a shoot-on-sight policy for suspected prisoners. Stories of looting, rampant illness and other unsafe conditions are still very much a reality. “If she was afraid for my safety, I don’t know if she would admit it,” Haan said of his wife. She said he should go and offer whatever aid was possible. If it weren’t for university exams she was finishing up, she would have gone too. Like Haan, she also has a background as paramedic and is in fact just finishing her nursing degree. Next Haan approached his bosses at Rockford City Hall and […]