Emergency Response: Preparing to Aid the Injured in Ecuador


Late on Saturday night, Ecuador was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, the most violent in 35 years. Some 300 people have been killed, more than 2,500 others have been injured, and in excess of 70,000 people have been directly affected by the disaster.

Since Sunday morning, Handicap International teams have been preparing to launch an emergency response to provide people injured in the earthquake with rehabilitation care. A team of emergency specialists in the region is traveling to Ecuador to assess the needs and plan the intervention.

“The number of people who suffer complex fractures is particularly high during earthquakes,” says Eric Weerts, one of Handicap International’s emergency specialists. “Many people also suffer injuries that can lead to amputations, nerve damage with limb paralysis, or spinal cord injuries with partial or full paralysis. The health structures in the most-affected provinces have been severely damaged by the earthquake. Our actions will focus on helping the health professionals in Ecuador so that the injured are appropriately cared for. We want to ensure that the injured avoid developing permanent disabilities."

Handicap International has significant experience in responding to earthquakes, including its ongoing support of injured earthquake survivors from the 2015 Nepal earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.