In the hours following the disastrous earthquake in Haiti, personnel at the CBP attaché in the Dominican Republic were already working to deliver aid to the troubled country. Thirty-six hours after the earthquake, two CBP Office of Air and Marine Blackhawk helicopters were on their way to deliver multinational rescue teams and humanitarian aid.
Lucia Foglia, the CBP attachè at the U.S. Embassy in the DR, requested agency support to fulfill the Department of State's need to deliver rescue teams and aid directly to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This cooperative effort leveraged the Department of Defense, DOS, and CBP's Office of Air and Marine. CBP's Office of International Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, DR has worked to coordinate the agency response within the interagency community at the Embassy.
OAM is supporting this portion of the relief effort with two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, each flying three round trips a day from the San Isidro Air Force Base in the Dominican Republic to the U.S. Embassy compound in Haiti.
"I am proud and humbled to be one of the first agents on scene and be utilized to move critical supplies from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. Embassy, Haiti," said Jason Harrell, Air Interdiction agent, Miami Air and Marine Branch.
Since helicopters are highly maneuverable and can land in a variety of environments they are optimized for delivering needed supplies to the embassy compound. OAM has also utilized Dash-8's flying into and out of San Isidro and Port-au-Prince with much needed supplies. These flights serve as a bridge and lifeline for movement of critical resources into Haiti.
The OAM crews and aircraft are based out of Miami and Puerto Rico. The crews deliver an array of multinational rescue teams from countries such as Costa Rica, France, and Germany, as well as needed medical supplies, doctors, and nurses.
"Kind of makes you feel good in your heart when you fly a [Search and Rescue] team in and the next day on the news you see the same guys pull a kid out of the rubble alive," said James Boone, supervisory Air Interdiction agent, Miami Air and Marine Branch. "You know that kid wouldn't have made it if we hadn't got the team in."
OAM agents continue to fly daily missions in support of relief efforts to Haiti.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.