DART honoured with new medal for Op HESTIA

DART honoured with new medal for Op HESTIA

A/SLt 24498 Noelani Shore (RMC 2009)

Less than 24 hours after the devastating earthquake rocked Haiti on Jan 12, 2010, members of CFB Kingston’s Disaster Assistance Response Team were on the ground, ready to begin humanitarian operations on OP HESTIA.

On June 9, 2011, those members were honoured at a public ceremony at CFB Kingston by being presented with the new Operational Service Medal, with the Humanitas Bar, by Major General David Fraser, the outgoing Commander of 1st Canadian Division in Kingston.

“I offer my congratulations to all receiving this new medal. We ask an awful lot of you by sending you into unknown, complex situations, and you make us proud,” he said. “You have proven with deeds, not words, that you are worthy of wearing this medal, and it is your commitment that has put this formation on the map.”

“We go on these missions as part of our job,” said Major David McQueen, Deputy Commanding Officer of the DART in Haiti. “We don’t do it to get an honour or receive a medal; it’s just part of our jobs. But to receive it is something special. I really appreciate being able to receive this on behalf of all Canadians.”

The speed with which the DART deployed is a testament to the training and readiness, and personnel were able to affect change sooner.

“We are trained to deploy on very short notice in this unit,” he explained. “We started working the evening we arrived, and the medical staff were even treating people as they were getting on the plane to be evacuated. The Canadians worked very hard right from the beginning, and that ability to do good work is just amazing, and this deployment is certainly a career highlight for me.”

The medical staff were indeed hard at work in the unpredictable environment in Haiti. Lieutenant Commander Paul Cervenko, the Base Surgeon at CFB Kingston, was shocked to see how much damage was done, and how little there was to work with. The medical staff saw more than 9,979 patients in all.

“You don’t have time to be overwhelmed; you just do your job the best you can. I had confidence in my team and my training,” he explained. “A lot of credit goes to the people that I worked with, and also our support back home. When we heard how ordinary Canadians were supporting the Haitian people and the mission, it really kept people going.”

Members of the DART will wear their new medal with pride and as a reminder to the people they were able to help.

“[The Haitian people] really appreciated us being there,” Maj McQueen said. “Canadians on the ground, providing water and health services, gave them such a sense of safety and security. As a member of the team that made that happen, it was an amazing feeling to be able to have that level of impact on a community.”