Jeff Behring is no stranger to need. He’s traveled to impoverished areas all over the world making deliveries with his family’s Wheelchair Foundation. When he returned to Port-au-Prince recently he was dismayed by the devastation.

“I have never, ever seen anything like it,” said Behring about the devastation in the capital. “It’s hard to believe anybody could have gotten out of those buildings alive. I don’t know how they will do the cleanup – there are tons and tons of concrete.”

Danville’s Wheelchair Foundation founder Ken Behring loaned his private plane to fly medical personnel and eight tons of donated medical supplies into the small island country that was hit by a 7.0 earthquake Jan. 12. Jeff Behring, director of special events, went along to help out where needed.

“When we drove through Port-au-Prince, tents were everywhere,” he said. “One of the big problems was that even if their homes weren’t destroyed, they were afraid to go in them. They were trying to find relatives more in the outer areas, outside of the city limits.”

“We went to the very west side of Port-au-Prince and set up a medical clinic where we served about 140 for a variety of different medical needs,” Behring recalled Thursday from Phoenix where he was attending a fundraiser. “In some cases, minor scrapes and abrasions had turned into bad infectious areas, some three to four inches in diameter and deep.”

His team also went to small villages and other places that had no treatment. A lot of the illness and malnourishment he saw had nothing to do with the earthquake, he noted. He said Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, similar to countries in central Africa, and the earthquake compounded its desperate need.

“Almost every person needed antibiotics,” he said, “to cut off infection before it happened. There was a lot of urinary track infection.”

“AIDS and tuberculosis are rampant,” he added. “It’s one of the largest concentrations of AIDS in the world.”

The plane landed first in Haiti with 20 medical personnel then returned to Miami to load up for a second flight. Behring called the director in Miami to say they had desperate need for basics, such as children’s vitamins, aspirin and eye drops, so the crew bought all they could fit into the trunk of their car for the return flight with another 20 doctors.

The first flight brought 30 wheelchairs, said Behring, and the foundation will make another delivery when more wheelchairs arrive from southern China.

Behring’s team included orthopedic surgeons and plastic surgeons. Behring worked for awhile at the regular medical facility at the airport and remembered in particular one miracle a plastic surgeon was able to perform.

“There was a little girl, only 6 years old, whose crushed finger needed to be removed,” he recalled. “Her pointing finger was damaged beyond repair.”

The plastic surgeon was also a hand surgeon and was able to operate so that she would be able to use her middle finger like a pointer and have a fully functional hand. The doctor met with the father to explain the procedure but he wasn’t sure what to do. When the mother said, “Do it,” the team dropped everything to perform the delicate surgery.

“It would have cost $10,000 in the U.S.,” commented Behring.

The medical team also did a lot of repairs where limbs had been quickly amputated in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. They stayed in the Humanitarian Compound, where they slept in sleeping bags and tents.

“We brought our own food and water, and everyone brought their own equipment,” said Behring. “We had a Mexican group next to us – surgeons – and a Spanish search-and-rescue team. There were Australians, French and Canadians. The whole world had come together.”

The Wheelchair Foundation’s eighth annual charity ball taking place Feb. 27 at the Blackhawk Museum will raise money for “Mobility for Haiti.” The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. and include hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dancing, silent and live auctions and a live stage show. Tickets are $150 per person. Contact Jeff Behring at 648-3829 or e-mail jeffbehring@wineforwheels.org

SOURCE: Danville Express

JEFF BEHRING, of Blackhawk, and a team of volunteers flew to Haiti on Jan. 27 on a humanitarian mission following the Caribbean nation’s devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.

“My father loaned his plane and flight crew to send doctors, nurses, wheelchairs and medical supplies donated by John Muir (Medical Center of Walnut Creek) and Medshare to Haiti,” Jeff’s brother, David Behring, the president of the Wheelchair Foundation, wrote in an e-mail to me.

The plane, owned by Kenneth Behring, a Blackhawk developer and philanthropist, is an MD-87 outfitted to seat 24, with plenty of cargo space.

I spoke with Jeff last week following his Jan. 30 return.

“There are tent cities set up everywhere — plastic tarps with stakes holding them up,” he said. “People are afraid to go back into their houses and buildings (Haiti has been subject to continuous aftershocks). There was a 7 p.m. curfew and you didn’t want to drive after that because people were sleeping in the middle of the road, I was told.”

Jeff said they set up camp in a big grassy area near the airport, where search-and-rescue teams were just leaving.

Three different makeshift medical areas were established around the island, including one right next to the epicenter, and lines of people soon formed for treatment.

“The doctors and nurses were treating wounds and infections. People had been patched up quickly right after the earthquake and then needed additional surgery. I did a lot of ‘gofer’ work — whatever I could to help the medical team,” Jeff said.

Charli Butterfield, the foundation’s assistant director of distribution, handled logistics for the flights and crew.

She stayed with the plane, which returned to the U.S. to pick up additional medical supplies and 16 more medical staff, then flew back to Haiti.

Included on the plane from the Bay Area were 30 wheelchairs for hospitals to use immediately, Jeff said.

Another 520 wheelchairs are on the way, and it’s hoped that funds can be raised to send thousands more wheelchairs.

To provide additional help, proceeds from the foundation’s eighth annual charity ball Feb. 27 at the Blackhawk Museum are designated to provide “Mobility for Haiti.” The gala evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. and include hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dancing, silent and live auctions and a live stage show.

Admission is $150 per person. For tickets, contact Jeff at 925-648-3829 or jeffbehring@wineforwheels.org.

Physicians from John Muir included orthopedists Torsten Jacobsen and Abid Qureshi and Ramin Mehmande, an orthopedist and plastic surgeon, Jeff said.

Other Bay Area volunteers included Ben Drew, executive director of John Muir Medical Center, and Chuck Haupt, executive director of Medshare in San Leandro, who was one of the main organizers of the trip.

Dan Catullo, of DC3 Music Group LLC, led arrangements from Los Angeles, receiving support from David Archuleta, New Kids on the Block, Creed, Godsmack and other celebrities.

Scott Stapp, lead singer for Creed, went along on the flight to Haiti and joined Jeff and Glen Perry in providing “gofer” assistance as needed.

For information on the Wheelchair Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to deliver a wheelchair to anyone worldwide who needs one, visit www.wheelchairfoundation.org or call 925-736-1571. Each $75 donation helps deliver a wheelchair.

SOURCE: Contra Costa Times

These pictures were taken with Jeff Behring’s phone. Jeff, along with two doctors and two nurses, drove for two hours outside of Port-au-Prince to setup a makeshift medical clinic. They gave wheelchairs to people in the village to help transport wounded and sick people to the clinic. The Haitian people were very malnourished and standing 50 deep in line to see doctors for medical attention. Conditions are very grim.

At 8:30 this morning an MD-87 filled with over three tons of emergency medical supplies and wheelchairs departed Stockton for a humanitarian aid trip to Haiti.  There were also 8 doctors and trauma nurses, a documentary film crew and Wheelchair Foundation (a Division of Global Health & Education Foundation) representatives on board.  This is a story of many different groups collaborating together in a short period of time to provide important relief to a country in crisis.  We will be periodically providing updates of the trip’s progress and experiences.

WheelchairFoundation-MedShareloadingShortly after the catastrophic 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, Dan Catullo III, the founder of DC3 Music Group (www.dc3global.com), contacted the Wheelchair Foundation to see if its founder, Ken Behring, would be interested in loaning his private jet to send physicians and medical supplies to that country.  He agreed to lend his plane and crew if sponsors could be found for the fuel.  Catullo immediately began contacting his associates in the music industry.  Scott Stapp, the lead singer for Creed, and New Kids on the Block stepped forward with substantial donations and encouraged other bands to spread the word on their websites.

Catullo then called Chuck Haupt at Medshare (www.medshare.com), to see if they would donate emergency medical supplies.  Haupt responded immediately with 8 pallets of materials like sutures, gauze, syringes, surgical gloves, etc., which are so desperately needed in Haiti.  They have been loaded into the cargo section of the plane along with 30 wheelchairs donated by the Wheelchair Foundation.  Medshare has also generously agreed to transport another 7 pallets of medical supplies from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale for the second flight to Haiti.  These supplies will be given to Partners in Health (www.pih.org) at the Port-au-Prince General Hospital.

John Muir Hospital in northern California also played a major role in supplying antibiotics and other requested supplies.  Jeff Behring, the son of Ken Behring, and Glenn Perry, a longtime supporter of the Wheelchair Foundation, had met Senator Bill Frist at an event the previous week.  Frist, a surgeon, had just returned from a week in Haiti and told Jeff what supplies were the most important.  When Perry contacted Ben Drew at John Muir, the hospital provided everything on Frist’s list.

You also need a “slot time” to land in Haiti.  Phil VanderWilt, the MD-87 pilot, was on the phone most of a  day trying to secure a position.  He finally got one that was six days away.  The plane will land in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday night, pick up more doctors, and head to Haiti.  The jet will then be unloaded, extract doctors and specialists from Partners in Health and Direct Relief International that have already been on the ground for a week or so and return to Florida.  Two days later it will transport another 16 doctors and two tons of medical supplies to assist in the relief effort.  The plane will then depart for California.

The Wheelchair Foundation would like to commend Jeff Behring, Dan Cathullo and Chris Rudd for their tireless efforts and passion in making this project come to fruition.  We also want to thank the musical performers and their fans for their invaluable support.  The people of Haiti need your help now and into the future to rebuild their lives and their country.

The Wheelchair Foundation is a Division of Global Health & Education Foundation.