Trio of Maritime medical professionals share their harrowing escape from Haiti
It sounds like something out of a Hollywood movie script, but a trio of medical professionals are sharing their harrowing story of escaping Haiti amid the country’s violent civil unrest.
Cathy Davies, Rachel Blaquiere and Dr. Heather Dow were part of a small group of health-care professionals who travelled to Haiti a few weeks ago to help those in need of basic health-care services. Their trip to Haiti was in connection with a Haitian based organization called G.E.A.C.H.
But the trio was soon caught in the middle of the chaos that has consumed the Caribbean country following protests and riots over, among other things, skyrocketing inflation.
Global News caught up with Davies, Blaquiere, and Dow, at Blaquiere’s home on Sunday.
“I was petrified,” said Davies, an experienced emergency nurse from Woodstock, N.B., on Sunday. “I thought ‘I’m never going to see my family again.'”
The trio says the trip — which would’ve normally been four-hours — began with a two-car convoy and took more than seven hours.
Multiple roadblocks forced the group to stop. At one point, they were forced to use $50 of their limited amount of money to pass through a particularly violent roadblock.
“Our car was being attacked by bottles,” said Blaquiere, who is based out of Halifax, N.S.
“There was a roadblock. I wasn’t sure we were going to get through.”
On Friday, roughly 20 minutes from the Toussaint Louverture airport, they were stopped at a final blockade which appeared to only be allowing ambulances through.
Eventually, they ended up traveling to one of the drivers’ homes to plan their next move.
The group was forced to pay US$150 to hire another driver and use another vehicle.
“We hired an ambulance which was not really an ambulance,” said Dow. “It was more like a minivan that somebody had put ambulance stickers on.”
The group says the fee didn’t matter at the time — as long as it got them to safety.
In order to make themselves look like medical professionals, they had their medical mission shirts on, while they also placed stethoscopes around their necks.
“Unfortunately, there was no third stethoscope so I had a blood pressure cuff around my neck,” said Blaquiere.
Finally, they were able to board a plane at the airport that transported them to Portland, Maine.
They spent a night in the United States before making their way to Woodstock, N.B., on Saturday.
WATCH: Global News coverage of the Canadians stranded among violent protests in Haiti
Dow, having spent time on the front lines in Iraq in 2017, is no stranger to working in regions experiencing violent conflict.
“I didn’t feel as unsafe in Iraq as I did in Haiti,” she said.
All three say they are happy to be back in Canada.
Their family members, including Blaquiere’s father Richard, are even more overjoyed.
“You sort of think you’re going to get up on a table and start dancing with excitement,” he said.
“There was just deep, deep tears and a deep, deep sigh of relief.”
Despite the unexpected turn of events, all three say they would — and will — go back to Haiti.
“Haiti has a piece of my heart, the people do and I think we need to be more aware of what their daily struggles are,” said Davies.
Since the protests broke out, several foreign governments, including the United States and Canada, have urged citizens to avoid travel to Haiti.
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