NYCMedics was born in the Pakistani Earthquake of 2005, when ten paramedics from New York City banded together to fight the unbearable numbers being broadcast from the disaster; tens of thousands dead in the mountains, many more injured and dying. It was the year we watched the Tsunami hit Indonesia, Katrina wipe out New Orleans, and for the rescue workers in New York, it was time to take a stand.
This group of ten recruited additional members of physicians, nurses and physician assistants all of whom amassed medical equipment, food and basic living necessities for a journey into the deep of Pakistan; Azad Jammu & Kashmir at the Line of Control.
Kashmir, in the indisputable stunning lower Himalayas of Pakistan, had been cut off from the outside world by a land war with India for over 50 years. This mystical treacherous mountainous landscape, peppered with rebel training camps, was further isolated by the earthquake and was well outside the reach of the larger NGO’s that were focused closer to the epicenter in Muzzafrabad. NYCM was dropped in Seyan, which proved to be the ultimate test of their commitment. There they met with the Afghan military team taking over their medical operations expanding it further into the valley.
From Seyan, NYCM initiated mobile medical units, which came to be their model for future relief operations and a model that others would adopt. The difficult landscape isolated remote villages, where the Pakistan Military reported masses of injured who had no access to the most basic aid.
NYCM dispatched highly effective mobile medical units with bare personal essentials and as much medical equipment they could carry on their backs and the backs of two artillery mules on loan from the Pakistani Army. The effects of the mobile medical units echoed throughout the valley; within hours hundreds of injured survivors made their way to the teams’ base camp in Kathai, high in the Jhelum Valley. The five member team resided with the local population, slept in a small tent and lived on one liter of water a day. Injured survivors trekked over multiple avalanche mountains to reach the NYCM field outpost, more than 200 a day, many of whom were in critical condition and needed to be stabilized and cared for until medical evacuation arrived.
The lasting footprint was a treacherous hike to a small isolated village, over two mountains deep, whose meager road had been cleared from existence by the massive upheaval. Even the most seasoned mountaineer would deliberate this vertiginous ascend. Nord Dijhia was completely isolated; more than 70 percent of its inhabitants had dysentery and the majority had festering wounds. The most troubling was the overwhelming number of injured young, all of whom had not received any medical care, until the arrival of NYCM.
The model of highly efficient and effective mobile medical units accessing the inaccessible, those who would otherwise have no lifesaving aid, is what inspired NYCM to fill the obvious gap in the relief efforts in Pakistan and in future disasters.