Haiti medevac flights were suspended because of Super Bowl preparations

As mentioned in this morning’s brief, the U.S. has resumed medevac flights of injured Haitians to Florida hospitals. But I’m surprised how little attention pro football’s role in the story has gotten:  The need to be ready for a mass emergency or disaster at the Super Bowl or Pro Bowl played a part in the ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As mentioned in this morning's brief, the U.S. has resumed medevac flights of injured Haitians to Florida hospitals. But I'm surprised how little attention pro football's role in the story has gotten: 

The need to be ready for a mass emergency or disaster at the Super Bowl or Pro Bowl played a part in the decision, as did the fact that South Florida hospitals were getting "saturated" with evacuees and that disaster planners had no specific plan for handling the injured at other hospitals, officials said.

The situation "came to a head" Wednesday night, when the state officially requested that federal officials stop sending medical flights to Florida until a plan was presented, said John Cherry, a spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management.

As mentioned in this morning’s brief, the U.S. has resumed medevac flights of injured Haitians to Florida hospitals. But I’m surprised how little attention pro football’s role in the story has gotten: 

The need to be ready for a mass emergency or disaster at the Super Bowl or Pro Bowl played a part in the decision, as did the fact that South Florida hospitals were getting "saturated" with evacuees and that disaster planners had no specific plan for handling the injured at other hospitals, officials said.

The situation "came to a head" Wednesday night, when the state officially requested that federal officials stop sending medical flights to Florida until a plan was presented, said John Cherry, a spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management.

The suspension of the military’s evacuation flights means that the injured and sick will be treated at makeshift hospitals and clinics set up in devastated Port-au-Prince and other towns on the island, health officials said.

In South Florida, a committee preparing for the two pro football bowls at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens had concerns that South Florida hospitals were growing too full with earthquake victims — and local airports too crowded with planes — to handle a major incident at the games.

A spokesman for the U.S. Army’s Southern Command also told the Miami Herald that the flights were being diverted "because of the rising numbers of evacuees and the need for the region to be prepared for upcoming events such as might result from the large crowds at the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl.”

The NFL has been touting its contributions to Haiti relief efforts during games and publicizine the Hatian family ties of Super Bowl players like the Colts’ Pierre Garcon and the Saints’ Jonathan Vilma. The league’s efforts are certainly laudable, but it’s still embarassing that the Pro Bowl contributed to Haitians not receiving medical care over the weekend. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Sports

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