Chicago medical response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti: translating academic collaboration into direct humanitarian response

Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2010 Jun;4(2):169-73. doi: 10.1001/dmphp.4.2.169.


On January 12, 2010, a major earthquake in Haiti resulted in approximately 212 000 deaths, 300 000 injuries, and more than 1.2 million internally displaced people, making it the most devastating disaster in Haiti's recorded history. Six academic medical centers from the city of Chicago established an interinstitutional collaborative initiative, the Chicago Medical Response, in partnership with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Haiti that provided a sustainable response, sending medical teams to Haiti on a weekly basis for several months. More than 475 medical volunteers were identified, of whom 158 were deployed to Haiti by April 1, 2010. This article presents the shared experiences, observations, and lessons learned by all of the participating institutions. Specifically, it describes the factors that provided the framework for the collaborative initiative, the communication networks that contributed to the ongoing response, the operational aspects of deploying successive medical teams, and the benefits to the institutions as well as to the NGOs and Haitian medical system, along with the challenges facing those institutions individually and collectively. Academic medical institutions can provide a major reservoir of highly qualified volunteer medical personnel that complement the needs of NGOs in disasters for a sustainable medical response. Support of such collaborative initiatives is required to ensure generalizability and sustainability.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / methods*
  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration
  • Altruism*
  • Chicago
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Earthquakes*
  • Haiti
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Mass Casualty Incidents*
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Organizations
  • Telecommunications / organization & administration
  • Volunteers / organization & administration