As part of our ongoing effort to provide support for our Crewmembers and Customers affected by the devastating earthquake to hit Haiti last week and to ensure the continued flow of operations in the Dominican Republic, select representatives from our Care and Social Responsibility Departments joined forces to organize a Haiti Relief Team, which has deployed a handful of trained Care Team members to the Santo Domingo airport for 3 days at a time to assist Customers and Crewmembers there.
Verna Kay, Director of Recruitment for JetBlue, was selected to serve as a Crewleader down in Santo Domingo to help account for all Crewmembers and Customers coming through the airport in the Dominican Republic.
See below as Verna shares her experiences in her own words:
I was deployed to SDQ to lead our Care support efforts for the station and was accompanied by 4 outstanding Care Team Crewmembers. Our objective was to assess conditions and take appropriate action to support our Crewmembers and Customers.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon and the station was busy, but running without any apparent stress. What we learned from our Leaders in SDQ was that this is usually a slower traffic period following the holiday push. All to say that our crewmembers and business partners have been working very hard for the past month and were expecting business to slow down which would give them some time to breathe. In addition, they have been squeezing in their final preparations for the CSS cutover. The earthquake has added another hurdle to their plan.
We also had an opportunity to visit with the airport management Leadership of Aerodom, our AO service business partner – Servair, and our GO service business partner – Menzies Aviation. Much like our own crewmembers, their organizations were feeling the stress of additional work during what is typically a slower pace of business. On Saturday evening the airport field was stacked with cargo airplanes from around the world filled with relief supplies. It was an amazing scene.
Our JetBlue crewmembers of the SDQ station, led by the efforts of GM Kelvin Pabon, have built an outstanding relationship with our business partners and government officials. Everyone we met appreciated the support that JetBlue offered. Certainly during such a disaster as this earthquake has created, the work is getting done because of the relationships Kelvin and his team created.
Much of our support specifically during my visit included ensuring that we were taking care of our people – both crewmembers and business partners. We provided meals and moral support. All of which was much appreciated.
Our customers amazed me in that I saw many American Haitians arriving at the airport looking fresh and calm with a very positive attitude. They described their journey over the border and the plans they were making to rebuild their lives. Many I spoke to had completely lost their homes, but were thankful that during the time of the earthquake they were not at home. They were not injured and had their families intact.
We were also trying to make contact with our JetBlue crewmembers that were traveling to/from Haiti. It was very frustrating at times as we were unable to make contact and we were very worried about their safety. The support and communication that we received from the Care Command Center was extremely helpful. Again, this opportunity refreshed my appreciation of our company and our culture with our guiding force to take care of our people…first!
On my last day of tour we had a group of 50 medical professionals that had been working in the field for 3 days straight. They too were focused, but remained positive and appreciative of our support. One doctor really impacted me as he was on the phone with his daughter and completely broke down crying. After his call he explained to me that he had operated on so many young children that when he heard his daughter’s voice he just lost it.
I appreciate having the opportunity to work with our Care Team and support our SDQ crewmembers and customers.