Mifflin Township firefighters April 20 shared with trustees their experiences while in Haiti recently to help with relief efforts.

Mifflin Township firefighters April 20 shared with trustees their experiences while in Haiti recently to help with relief efforts.

Fire Lt. Mark Hendricks and firefighters Tim Morris and Mike Diehl all traveled separately to Haiti for about two weeks each to administer first aid to residents of that country after a devastating earthquake destroyed the capital city of Port-au-Prince in January. All three traveled in separate groups with Open Hands, a relief-effort group organized through the Vineyard Church in Westerville, where Morris and Diehl both attend.

The three firefighters all said their senses were overwhelmed by what they witnessed in Haiti but added that they were glad to be able to offer assistance to the people there.

Morris, the first of the three to travel to Haiti, said he wasn't sure what to expect. His group flew into the Dominican Republic and drove across the border into Haiti, where they set up a "base camp" for their first week at an orphanage near the capital.

He and the other members of the team set up medical clinics at various locations during that first week.

"We treated wounds and broken bones," he said. "We saw a lot of infection."

In the second week, Morris and his team worked out of a nearby hospital.

"Overall, we were able to treat more than 500 people," he said. "I feel like we had a good impact."

Hendricks followed Morris into Haiti. He and the other members of his team continued the work that Morris and his team had started at the hospital. Two things that struck him were the heat and the patience of the Haitian people, he said. The temperature inside the tents where the medical clinics were set up reached 110 degrees, but "people would stand in the heat for three to four hours to see a doctor," he said.

Hendricks told ThisWeek that his crew had visited an orphanage while there, and a young girl was paralyzed from a previous accident.

"She would drag her bare foot across the ground," he said. "One of our doctors asked me to make up a boot to put her foot in. I looked around and found an old gallon jug. I cut the bottom and the side out of the jug, making an L-shape. With lots of tape and a foam ball for cushion, we made the little girl an orthopedic boot. When she walked, while using her crutches, her foot was protected from the gravel. The next day, someone from the orphanage came to the hospital and picked up a new orthopedic boot."

Diehl said that despite the conditions, "the people were very patient and thankful."

Hendricks, who also traveled with Open Hands to Indonesia to help out after an earthquake-spawned tsunami devastated parts of that country in December 2004, said he had helped treat a number of victims of shootings and assaults arising from societal breakdown in the wake of the earthquake.

All three men thanked fire Chief Jim DeConnick for allowing them to travel to Haiti and offer their medical assistance to the people there. Hendricks said the EMS training they have received through their jobs "helped us contribute a lot."

All three used personal vacation time or traded shifts with other firefighters to cover the time they were in Haiti.

Trustees Joe Spanovich, Lynn Stewart and Dick Angelou all expressed their thanks and appreciation to the firefighters for their willingness to render aid to people in the most desperate of situations.

"All of you are obviously called to serve, and it's great that you were able to take that to the next level," Angelou told them.

Stewart added, "When the earthquake happened, all most of us could offer was our prayers, tears and dollars, but you guys offered yourselves. I am so grateful for what you did. All of us are."

Spanovich also heaped praise: "You are truly an example of putting the words, 'I am my brother's keeper', into action."

The trustees unanimously approved a resolution commending Hendricks, Morris and Diehl for representing the United States, Mifflin Township and the fire department in an honorable way.

In other business, the trustees approved a number of personnel moves in the fire and police departments and service-credit bonuses for employees in the fire department, along with training requests for various fire department employees and code-enforcement officer Steve Blake.

They also approved a request from Boy Scout Troop 317 to use the township meeting hall for an Eagle Scout award ceremony May 23 and the purchase of a treadmill and elliptical trainer for the workout room in the basement of the township hall at a cost of nearly $4,400.

The trustees will hold a staff meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, May 3, and their next regular meeting at 3:30 p.m. May 18 in the township hall, 155 Olde Ridenour Road.

ThisWeek staff writer Scott Hummel contributed to this story.