U.S. News

U.S. to resume medevac flights from Haiti

Lt.j.g. Natalie Shaffer (C), a nurse assigned to Fleet Surgical Team 8 and embarked aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan in Baie De Grand Goave, Haiti, hands over a newborn Haitian baby boy to his father January 30, 2010. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Kristopher Wilson/Handout

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - The U.S. military will resume evacuation flights to the United States for critically injured Haitian earthquake victims within the next 12 hours, the White House said on Sunday.

“Having received assurances that additional capacity exists both here and among our international partners, we determined that we can resume these critical flights,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

“The flights are on track to resume in the next 12 hours,” Vietor said.

The U.S. military medevac flights have been halted since Wednesday over a dispute about where the patients would be treated and the costs of their care.

Hundreds of patients had already been evacuated to the United States for treatment, most to Florida hospitals, since the devastating January 12 quake in the poor Caribbean country. But Florida’s governor had asked the federal government to share the burden.

Suspension of the U.S. military medevac flights has increased pressure on emergency medical teams in Haiti who are working around the clock to treat seriously injured quake survivors, either in damaged local hospitals or in fully equipped emergency clinics that have been flown in.

The White House statement said patients were being identified for transfer, doctors were making sure it was safe for them to fly and that pediatric care was being prepared aboard the aircraft where needed.

The state of Florida was identifying hospitals to receive the patients, Vietor added.

He said Haiti’s government had estimated there were more than 200,000 injuries from the 7-magnitude quake that killed up to another 200,000.

Editing by Peter Cooney