Chile 2010 Earthquake Disaster Relief

On February 27, 2010, an earthquake occurred off of the coast of Chile having a magnitude of 8.8. It was felt strongly in six Chilean regions that together, make up about 80 percent of the country’s population. The earthquake triggered a tsunami, which severely impacted several costals towns in south-central Chile and damaged the port of Talcahuano. Chile also suffered a power outage that affected 93 percent of the Chilean population, and the blackout went on for several days in some areas. This earthquake combined with the tsunami killed over 500 people and affected more than 1.8 million people.

Hundreds of buildings and homes were destroyed. Structural damage in Concepcion, Talca and Constitucion was devastating. Homes, buildings, offices and health care facilities are beyond repair. 14 Hospitals throughout the country had to close their doors; this is during a crucial time as patients are unable to find access to healthcare. Chile also faced a shortage of healthcare personnel. The historical area of Concepcion was especially heart breaking to the Chilean people as historical relics representing the national pride of Chile were damaged or destroyed. This earthquake had a major impact on the country’s economy, and also had significant social repercussions. In Maule a sewer system collapsed and several water towers were close to toppling over, which caused people in many communities to lack basic services. This lack of water and sanitation made individuals more vulnerable to diseases and infections.

The aftermath of this earthquake left the hospital systems overwhelmed. Many patients walked in droves to their nearest health care facility only to see the devastating reality that it had collapsed or been so severely damaged that it was quarantined off. The Republic of Chile requested our help and International Medical Relief (IMR) sent a medical team into the area to help alleviate the stress the hospital and health care system were enduring. We set up medical clinics in hospital parking lots under tents and tarps and treated the numerous patients all coming for medical care. IMR clinics are composed of both our corps of international medical staff and local providers who partner shoulder-to-shoulder to help deliver sustainable healthcare elevating access to care for our patients. During this medical mission trip, a total of 18 volunteers and staff served over 650 patients. IMR provided much needed aid to the local health care system during the recovery period. IMR teams that included EMTs, nurses, doctors, dentists, and students who reached beyond borders in order to provide critical care to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the aftermath of this earthquake. During our urgent response to this disaster, IMR was able to provide a total aid value of $463,595. IMR worked to provide long-term sustainable care and to increase the overall well-being of the community and provided needed relief to the hospitals and healthcare system.

Also, our first responders medical team also provided community health classes and conducted a children’s program engaging the youth in therapeutic activities designed in cooperation with children therapists specializing in trauma and loss to further the patient’s knowledge and education on health matters related to their personal health needs. During IMR’s critical work, we also provided 20 health education classes including hygiene, solar water disinfection, oral hygiene, sanitation, grieving, and others. Over 780 people participated in these education classes. Educating communities allow for locals to become more empowered by their own health, as well as for the health of other community members.

International Medical Relief was privileged to participate in this enormous undertaking of caring for millions who were displaced. We continue to work with the most underserved and vulnerable populations in order to improve communities overall health and well-being.

Join Us in Making a Difference.

Bring much-needed acute medical and dental care to a beautiful, culture-rich destination. You can join an IMR medical mission team today!