What does a doctor in Nepal have in common with a logistics expert in Memphis?
Dr. Bibek Banksota, an orthopedic surgeon in Kathmandu, Nepal, describes how medical supplies flown in by FedEx helped him and his colleagues serve over 45,000 earthquake survivors, many with life-threatening injuries.
“I was on a mountain road when the earth began to shake. It looked as if bombs were going off in front of me. I was able to reach Kathmandu, and we worked at the hospital from early in the morning to late at night. We experienced aftershocks, up to 6.5, during surgeries and had to leave the building multiple times. We continued doing amputations in tents in the parking lot.
I remember operating on a little girl who lost her mother in the earthquake on their way home from a wedding. We treated severe wounds on her legs, and she is doing well now.
A lot of people overseas wanted to help but only a few were able to deliver. The impact made by Direct Relief and FedEx was phenomenal. They brought critical supplies right to our doorstep — IV fluids for surgeries, medications for children, wheelchairs for amputees. With these supplies, we served tens of thousands of people in Kathmandu and in remote medical and surgical camps, all of whom were in dire straits.”
A lot of people overseas wanted to help but only a few were able to deliver. The impact made by Direct Relief and FedEx was phenomenal. They brought critical supplies right to our doorstep.
— Dr. Bibek Banksota, Director of the Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children
Since Thomas Tighe became President and CEO of Direct Relief, in 2000, the nonprofit humanitarian organization has delivered more than $2.2 billion in medical aid to people in need around the world.
“Emergencies are many things...including a logistical nightmare. The challenge of rapid mobilization is a huge barrier to getting survivors the help they need. Working with FedEx has changed the entire dynamic for us, and Nepal is a perfect example.
After the earthquake, FedEx took extraordinary steps to clear flights to get our medical supplies into Kathmandu. The runways were damaged, and nobody seemed to be getting in. I was there when the aid arrived, and someone from the World Health Organization came over and asked how we pulled it off. I told them FedEx.
Together we delivered over six million doses of medicine as well as hospital tents, wheelchairs and birthing centers. It ended up being one of the most substantial deliveries of medical relief in Direct Relief’s 67 year history. This is our job as a humanitarian nonprofit. But FedEx chooses to do this — at no cost to Direct Relief or our end beneficiaries — and does it faster and better than any other.”
Together we delivered over six million doses of medicine as well as hospital tents, wheelchairs and birthing centers. It ended up being one of the most substantial deliveries in Direct Relief’s 67-year history.
— Thomas Tighe, President and CEO, Direct Relief
When a disaster strikes, Jenny Robertson, FedEx Director of Citizenship and Reputation Management, is immediately on the phone guiding teams inside and outside FedEx to direct critical supplies where they are needed most.
“Disaster relief has always been a focus for FedEx. It’s part of our DNA. We understand how to move things better than anyone and are able to get in and out of communities in need when others can’t.
We rely heavily on collaborations with expert organizations around the world. Having relationships already in place means that when emergencies strike, we know who to call, where supplies are located and how to work together.
When we delivered aid to Nepal, we were on calls twice a day with air operations, load masters, senior executives, nonprofits and other global team members to update our plans. The situation changed hour by hour. Our disaster relief team quickly created a plan with Direct Relief, Water Missions International and Heart to Heart International that involved moving medicines, food, shelter and water purification equipment from three different U.S. locations into Memphis. There, we re-staged the supplies to load onto our chartered aircraft bound for Dubai and ultimately Kathmandu. It involved detailed coordination among all of the teams, which was made possible by our common goal of helping as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
As we finalized the mission, I thanked everyone for their around-the-clock collaboration. A member of our operations team responded simply, ‘Lives are at stake. This is what we do.’ That said it all.”
When emergencies strike, we know who to call, where supplies are located and how to work together.
— Jenny Robertson, Global Director of Citizenship and Reputation Management, FedEx Services
As a Global Freight Movement Manager at FedEx Express, Glenn Carpenter is a logistics wizard who handles the flow of large shipments through our international gateway cities.
“I tell people it’s like sending an astronaut to the moon. Unforeseen issues come up and you have to address each along the way to get your astronaut there and back.
For the Nepal relief effort, we had to determine how much aid we were moving, where it was coming from and how it would get to Kathmandu. We don’t usually fly there, so FedEx Charters had to find a plane that was sized correctly and could be rerouted towards the relief effort. We scheduled trucks to pick up supplies across the country and bring them to Memphis. We packed those on our plane and flew from Memphis to Dubai to Delhi to Kathmandu. All within 24 hours.
Because there was cracking on the Kathmandu runway, we had to reduce our payload to get clearance to land, so we decided to make multiple trips from Dubai to Nepal. We also had to ensure we took enough fuel with us to get back from Kathmandu safely.
It was like a giant chess game happening in real time with all hands on deck. Thankfully, we have excellent team members who are all experts at what they do.”
It’s like sending an astronaut to the moon. Unforeseen issues come up and you have to address each along the way to get your astronaut there and back.
— Glenn Carpenter, Manager, Global Freight Movement, FedEx Express