Mayor Richard M. Daley said today the City has donated three Fire Department ambulances stocked with critical supplies to the Haitian relief efforts.
The ambulances, driven by volunteers, are leaving Chicago today for Miami, from where they will be shipped to Haiti.
“I know I speak for all Chicagoans when I say that our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in the Haiti disaster, and with everyone else in that nation which is experiencing such incredible hardship right now,” Daley said in a news conference held at the Chicago Fire Department Quinn Fire Academy, 558 W. DeKoven St.
“The City has been working with Chicago’s Haitian community to find the best ways we can assist the victims of the earthquake,” he said.
The Mayor said that although the loss of life is heartbreaking, the focus for all of us must now turn toward those who survived and toward helping them meet the basic needs of food, shelter and proper medical attention.
Two of the ambulances will be used at the St. Croix Hospital and the third will be used by volunteer fire fighters to transport patients to other local medical centers.
The ambulances are stocked with cots, blankets, masks, bandages, gloves, food, and other critical supplies.
The City will pay for the gasoline needed to drive the ambulances to Florida, and NAPA Genuine Parts Company is helping to pay for the drivers’ food, lodging and return trip.
In addition, some of the supplies being sent have been donated by Every Bloomin Industry, Progressive Industries and the City of Romeoville.
The volunteer drivers are: retired Chicago Fire Department Captain Willis Christian, Mustafa Azeem, whose parents’ retirement home in Haiti has been destroyed, his cousin Jimmy Pierre and Michael Finney, the nephew of Willis Christian.
Daley thanked Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, whose office is helping ensure the timely and efficient delivery of the ambulances to Haiti, the International Fire Training Force for its help in coordinating the volunteer firefighters and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, whose office expedited the titles and transporting permits for the ambulances.
Through the Human Relations Commission, the City is working with City Colleges, Haitian community organizations, faith-based groups and elected officials to organize informational workshops on how Haitians can receive Temporary Protection Status from the Department of Homeland Security. Dates will be announced soon.
The City Department of Family and Support Services, working with the Red Cross, the Chicago Christian Industrial League and United Airlines, has coordinated efforts that have brought 240 refugees from Haiti to Chicago.
The City continues to work with the Red Cross as the central point for donations, to provide grief counselors through community organizations all across the city and to conduct a city-wide blood drive at various community sites, as well as City Hall.
Chicago’s Sister Cities program is working with the “Share Your Soles” program to send 10,000 pairs of shoes to victims of the earthquake.
“When we are confronted with a natural disaster as overwhelming as the one in Haiti it reminds us that something like this can happen anywhere in the world, any time,” Daley said.
“Every day I see the generous spirit of Chicagoans. I want to ask every resident of our City to help lessen the suffering in Haiti. I know these are tough times here, but there is something -- no matter how small it may be -- that each of us can do to assist the recovery of this nation.
“Please get involved in helping those who need help,” he said.