October 11, 2005: CMAT has launched an emergency appeal for donations to help the people in northeast Pakistan, Afghanistan and India after a powerful 7.6 magnitude quake struck the area, centered about 100km northeast of Islamabad. Current estimates suggest that up to 35,000 persons have perished to date and over 43,000 injured – numbers will climb.
A number of important developments have occurred over the past 24 hours which CMAT wishes to report on.
1) CMAT has established a country director and coordinator in Pakistan to facilitate medical relief for victims of the Pakistan quake. In Islamabad, CMAT has recruited Mr. Zain-Ul- Abidin, a Canadian citizen who presently resides in Islamabad. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Islamabad. In Abbotabad, Pakistan, a devastated area very close to the epicenter, Mr. Omar Elahi, a fourth year medical student attending Ayub Medical College in Abbotabad survived the collapse of his college dormitory. After donating his clothes and cash to other quake survivors, he left the area by jeep to Balakot. He has been in sporadic contact with his family in Toronto by mobile phone and has agreed to serve as a coordinator for CMAT. He will be able to perform on the ground needs assessments, coordinate CMAT relief activities on the ground, and keep our teams updated on conditions on the ground. He is fluent in the local languages including Pushto, Potohari, Urdu and Punjabi.
2) A team of trauma surgeons from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto will travel to Pakistan representing CMAT and will volunteer their services to the Pakistan quake victims in Abbotabad and Balakot through CMAT. Dr. Mehboob Elahi, a Plastic Surgeon with St. Michael’s Hospital, Scarborough Grace Hospital, and Scarborough Centenary Hospital, and brother of Omar Elahi, will be part of this team.
3) CMAT is in contact with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) requesting funding for its emergency relief efforts.
4) CMAT is assembling a number of medical teams to rotate into the field, consisting of physicians, trauma nurses and paramedics. The first team will leave within the week and will include Dr. Faisal Raja, an Emergency Physician from Prince Albert, SK. Dr. Raja is fluent in the geography, languages and culture of the area. In addition, Dr. Ron McMillan, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, McMaster University will also be on the first team. In addition, a firefighter from Surrey, B.C. and member of the renowned Vancouver HUSAR team will be traveling with the team, along with a search and rescue dog. The CMAT medical team will travel to Islamabad and be airlifted by helicopter to the area to establish a base camp from which medical services will be offered to the victims of the quake.
5) CMAT appeals to all health care professionals, construction and trades people to join its growing database of volunteers for overseas missions. CMAT has appealed to the Canadian College of Family Physicians as well as the Coalition of Family Physicians to encourage members to join. Please register through our website.