By Courtney Walsh, Staff Writer
The recent earthquake in Haiti only lasted 35 seconds but caused devastating damage, 200,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless, bringing a country to its knees. Many watched in horror powerless to help those lucky enough to escape with their lives, but not David Riviere.
Riviere, a 2007 University graduate and currently a Pride assistant athletic trainer, was born in the United States and moved to Haiti as a boy, living there until the age of 14.
"I had family members who I was unable to get in contact with, and I started to get worried so I found my own way over there" said Riviere.
Unaffiliated with any volunteer organization or sponsorship, Riviere bought his own plane ticket and made his way to the devastated Caribbean country just days after the earthquake occurred.
"The road of the border was unaffected so it seemed as though nothing was wrong, but as we got closer to the capital we saw this big rife in the middle of the street, where the street had split open, and that's when you're like okay there was an earthquake. We started seeing walls and houses that had broken down, that's when to me it started to really hit me, it's like okay, yes this really happened," said Riviere.
Entering the capital, Riviere saw hoards of people, asking for water, food, or news of loved ones. Most of those he saw wore masks to cloak the smell of bodies, which still trapped under the rubble had started to decompose.
Upon his arrival Riviere immediately went to work securing his family with more than two weeks worth of supplies, but Riviere did not stop there. Once his family was settled in, he went on to offer his services at a local doctor to help treat those wounded by the quake. The doctors in dire need of assistance placed Riviere in the Post Op, where he changed bandages and assisted placing IVs, but on his third day, Riviere was hastily promoted when the head of Post Op had to return to Miami.
"He was basically like, well until we find someone else you're it," Riviere said.
Riviere then had to manage when and which patients went into the OR, and doing rounds with the doctors trying to take notes.
As for the road to recovery, he foresees a long and difficult journey.
"You have a capital which a completely gone and a government that doesn't really have the means to rebuild itself. So unless they have outside aide which comes and provide the help and financial needs to rebuild the capital, it may never be rebuilt," said Riviere.
Entering his second year as an athletic trainer at the University, Riviere claimed that the school was highly supportive oh his 10-day trip to Haiti, but Riviere worries that although the Haitian earthquake is front-page news now that it will soon be forgotten, he recalled the Tsunami in 2004.
"You saw it in the news and you felt sad for them, and life goes on. But when it hits somewhere where you know people and you lost people it's a different approach, you feel very much attached."
Riviere plans to return to Haiti this summer and has been in contact with the National Association of Athletic Trainers, and Handicap International. He urges anyone willing to donate financially and support the cause anyway they can.