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Direct Relief sends aid to Maui as death toll rises from raging wildfires

GOLETA, Calif. – Direct Relief's first shipment of aid supplies has landed in Hawaii to help those affected by the deadly wildfires burning in Maui. 

The shipment that flew out Wednesday included a wildfire kit, emergency medical backpacks, and more than 300 personal care kits with hygiene items, including soap and toothpaste. 

Leighton Jones, the Director, Emergency Response & New Initiatives at Direct Relief, said more shipments are on the way. 

"I would anticipate with the scale of this disaster that we'll be sending shipments for a number of weeks, maybe a couple of months, and we'll be supporting these communities for the long term," said Jones. 

Direct Relief wildfire kit contains PPE, respiratory medications, ophthalmic treatments, chronic disease medications and more. A wildfire response kit was shipped Wednesday to Health Mothers, Health Babies Coalition of Hawaii, which is deploying to shelters and communities impacted by fires. (Photo by Erin Feinblatt for Direct Relief)

Direct Relief is in contact with the Hawaii Department of Health, the Federal Administration for Strategic Preparedness & Response Region 9, the Hawaii Primary Care Association, and more than 15 other healthcare facilities in Hawaii according to its website. 

Specialized in responding to disasters around the world, Direct Relief had a shipment ready to send Wednesday after the wildfires broke out Tuesday night in Maui. 

"Part of the experience that we've had responding to wildfires, we had a sense of what might be needed," said Alycia Clark, Director of Pharmacy and Clinical Affairs. "That's why we have kits that are ready-to-go to meet those immediate needs."

Clark said these initial shipments of supplies, medications, and N-95 masks are to address the huge disruptions caused by the wildfires. 

"A lot of shelters have patients in them right now that need hygiene supplies and things for minor injuries like sprains, cuts. There's also a lot of smoke in the air and so there is irritation to the lungs, eyes, nose, throat." 

Clark says Direct Relief is getting requests for insulin and some of the more chronic disease medications because emergency rooms are full.

"Things for asthma, things for high blood pressure, things that may not cause symptoms right away, but once they're uncontrolled, they cause a huge emergency."

The humanitarian non-profit based in Goleta has opened its $360 million wholesale medical inventory in California for this emergency and said it will continue to fulfill medical requests. 

Medical shipments are on the way to local organizations responding to medical needs including those of pregnant women, newborns, and their families that have been displaced or affected by the fires according to the Direct Relief's website. 

Jones said Direct Relief has already committed to $500,000 in initial aid to the disasters in Hawaii and will continue to respond to requests. 

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Hawaii fires
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