Most people have heard about, or even experienced, the chaos caused by catastrophic events, such as the tornados in Joplin, hurricanes in the southern United States or earthquakes in Haiti. In Missouri, the UM System works through MU Extension to develop preparedness programs and resources to help Missourians through major disasters like flooding and tornadoes. The UM System also develops long-term strategies like the NextGen Precision Health Initiative, which will improve the ability to respond to medical emergencies in remote areas.
Promoting resiliency after disaster is an integral part of the spirit that guides the UM System’s mission. However, many people are often unsure of how to help improve situations, especially in the phase of large-scale natural disaster. One inspiring figure who has found a way to help is MU Health Care Doctor Adam Beckett.
After trying to get involved with Haitian Earthquake relief in 2010, Dr. Beckett recognized the need for a central network of resources for those looking to get involved with disaster relief efforts. To bridge the gap between information and action for several humanitarian aid organizations, Dr. Beckett founded Global First Responder as a resource for those looking to get involved with relief efforts.
After completing his undergraduate education in 1995, Beckett joined the U.S. Marine Corps for four years. After his completion of service, Beckett went to medical school to become a Doctor of Emergency Medicine. Fueled by his time in the Marine Corps and his love for medicine, Beckett spends his free time engaging in volunteer work abroad.
As a result, Dr. Beckett began developing a database and website to meet this need. The website for the project, which launched in August 2012, has helped organize medical relief trips while connecting volunteers to agencies doing work overseas. By staying in contact with other relief organizations across the globe, Global First Responders tries help as much as possible.
“Unfortunately, there is never a lack of need when it comes to global relief work,” Dr. Beckett said.
The organization has grown immensely with nearly ten mission trips in the works for the next year, and resources listed from more than 1400 relief agencies. Trips to places like Montrouis & St. Marc, Haiti to provide medical education and community development can be extremely beneficial in improving the health of locals and beyond, but also extremely costly for GFR. Costs can range from nearly $5000 to nearly $50,000 per trip, for all of the trip’s supplies. This varies by country and does not even including volunteer travel costs.
Previous trips include 2018’s Operation Enduring Comfort, where Global First Responders worked directly with the U.S. Navy and other agencies to large run public outreach clinics in Esmerelda, Ecuador. By working with host nation health and government officials and partner nation military doctors, this group was able to provide medical donations and trainings to help them better treat their patients. The group has since worked with the U.S. Southern Command in Ecuador and Kingston, Jamaica.
Luckily, anyone can get involved with Global First Responders, and you don’t have to volunteer abroad to do so. By working to provide sustainable infrastructure and health care solutions for all, Global First Responder accepts volunteers of any skillset. The organization has worked with people from all types of backgrounds, ranging from contractors and engineers to teachers and health care workers.
To date, Global First Responders has worked in 16 different countries around the world and cooperates with multiple non-government relief agencies. Dr. Beckett’s work is benefitting not only the underdeveloped countries that it serves but also anyone looking to find information about service work and volunteering abroad. Anyone can help the cause from home by donating or attending local events like Rally in the Alley.
Rally in the Alley is GFR’s annual fundraiser to raise money with volunteers and local businesses. The 5th annual Rally in the Alley fundraiser will be on June 4, 2020, will be located in the alley on Walnut between 8th St. and 9th St. This event will feature different bands and barbeque and will allow Global First Responders to celebrate with the local community.
Across the UM System there is a strong drive to develop effective programs for outreach to global communities, and the work of Global First Responder is an ideal representation of how these programs can really make a difference. Under the Engagement and Outreach Compact, the UM System strives to establish innovative partnerships with organizations that can make an impact for all disciplines, experiences and perspectives.