Brett Williams is Director of International Programs and Emergency Response for Direct Relief International.
California’s largest humanitarian aid organization plans to donate hundreds of backpacks stuffed with first-aid items — ready for the next big earthquake, fire or other disaster. Organizers will distribute the medical kits to trained emergency response volunteers.
The rugged, royal blue bags look heavier than 25 pounds. One compartment holds bandages and scissors. Another pocket contains pain medication and ointment. Dig a little deeper and you find triage materials.
Organizer Brett Williams said each carries about 75 items. “Everything you would need, you can just open the backpack, pull out the clear pouch for the wound care supplies and go ahead and dress and clean somebody’s cut or scrape," Williams said. "You can check their blood pressure. If they have a headache you can give them some basic Tylenol or Advil.”
The nonprofit Direct Relief International runs the program. Staffers in Manhattan Beach displayed the backpacks stuffed with supplies.
The organization will donate the grab-and-go kits to volunteer members of L.A. County’s three Medical Reserve Corps units — the City of Long Beach, the Beach Cities Health District and theL.A.LA County Department of Public Health.
Program leader Thomas Tighe said Direct Relief, based in Santa Barbara, raised more than a million dollars for the project. He said it’s attracting attention beyond California.
“I talked with the Surgeon General Regina Benjamin of the United States last week in New York and she’d like us to do more for all of her 200,000 medical reserve corps members across the country because it’s such a good program," Tighe said.
Organizers said they hope to distribute more than a thousand med-packs in California by year’s end. Medical Reserve Corps authorities say they’re eager to receive them.
FedEx and the Jean Perkins Foundation helped sponsor the program.