Three local rescue teams on unofficial standby for possible deployment to Haitian disaster zone

By David F. Rooney

Lise Tataryn, Lisa Weber and Zuzana Driediger and their rescue dogs have been asked by the Provincial Emergency Program to stand by pending possible deployment by the federal government to the Haitian disaster zone where as many as 100,000 people may be dead while thousands of others are trapped beneath collapsed buildings.

“They are going to need as many dogs as possible,” Weber said Wednesday evening.

PEP contacted Revelstoke Search and Rescue’s Buck Corrigan on behalf of the federal government on Wednesday afternoon and asked him to contact the three women, who are all members of the Canadian Canine Search & Rescue (CCSAR), which is based locally.

Tataryn said they are currently on standby waiting to hear if or when they might be deployed.

“When we hear it will be really short notice,” she said. “We could hear tonight.”

Tataryn and Weber volunteered the services of their dogs, Rudy and Griffin respectively, to help the search for survivors after a major earthquake in Italy last spring.

“Haiti is going to be quite a bit different from Italy,” Weber said. “There’s very little water, little food and it will be a lot more dangerous — a lot more dangerous.”

Driediger, whose German shepherd is named Hero, said it is currently unclear if the trio would in fact be asked to go. And if they are asked they’ll each have to make a decision.

“You’ve got to weigh the possibility of helping someone against coming home safe,” she said, adding that she has serious concerns about the situation in Haiti.

“It scares me. The country is so unstable. Hospitals have collapsed. There seems to be no stable government. Prisons have collapsed and there are escaped prisoners wandering around. I wouldn’t go if there was no security.”

By all accounts the scope of the Jan. 12 disaster in Haiti is almost incomprehensible. Here’s how the respected British newspaper, The Guardian, reported the disaster Wednesday morning:

“Haiti’s president tonight issued a desperate appeal for international aid following the earthquake that has devastated his country, as fears grew that the death toll could rise above 100,000.

“René Préval said the damage caused by the magnitude 7.0 tremor was ‘un imaginable’ and appealed for help, describing hearing the screams of those trapped under collapsed buildings while he and his wife stepped over bodies lying in the streets.

“’Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed. There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them. All of the hospitals are packed with people. It is a catastrophe,’ said Préval.

“With chaotic scenes in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince, officials said it was impossible to gauge accurately the scale of the disaster, but the country’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, told CNN the final death toll could be well over 100,000. ‘I hope that is not true … But so many, so many buildings, so many neighbourhoods are totally destroyed, and some neighbourhoods we don’t even see people, so I don’t know where those people are.’

“Haitian senator Youri Latortue told Associated Press that 500,000 might be dead. Both men admitted that they had no way of knowing.”

Canada is rushing massive amounts of aid to Haiti, including 500 soldiers, naval ships, helicopters and relief aid.

“It’s an enormous disaster in a country that can’t afford such a disaster, that already has terrible problems,” Prime Minister Harper said. “Our hearts are with all of them. I can assure you that we are acting as quickly and as comprehensively as we can.”

People across the country, appalled by the destruction they have seen on their television screens, have responded quickly. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Canadian Red Cross had received donations of more than $1 million and more is expected.

If you would like to donate to Haitian relief through the Canadian Red Cross Society please click here:; your donation can help save lives.