When a disaster strikes, the GE family plays a critical role in helping the affected communities get back on their feet. Together, GE and GE Foundation commit resources and employee support, leveraging the company’s size and breadth to provide unique dimensions of aid.
The four pillars of GE’s approach to disaster relief are:
- GE responds as a partner for the disaster response and readiness teams
- GE Foundation not only provides grant aid directly to relief organizations, but it also matches GE employee gifts to eligible disaster relief organizations such as the International Red Cross and UNICEF
- GE Volunteers work through networks at the disaster site to organize local support and align employees in the region
- GE pulls from its diverse portfolio to donate products to address needs created by the disaster
GE’s key partners in disaster relief efforts include GE employees, the International Red Cross, UNICEF, IMC and CARE. GE’s strong relationships with these organizations enable the most successful implementation of relief efforts.
Assessing Disaster Response
GE has instituted a formal process to swiftly and aptly determine the appropriate response in the wake of a disaster. The process begins by assessing the event using sources such as news coverage, global GE contacts and the International Red Cross. Once information about the disaster has been collected, GE then works to confirm the safety of its own employees and their families. Donations are then considered using pre-set criteria to determine need.
Disasters are measured by factors such as scale, amount of injury or structural damage, and relation or proximity to a GE community. Based on the level of need, GE’s responses range from monetary grants for reconstruction, product donations, and employee giving or volunteer projects. Additionally, GE Volunteer networks can provide on-the-ground assistance to their local communities, enriching both the experience of the relief effort and the morale of employees. “Corporations have a presence in communities across the globe, and their employees want to be proud and inspired by where they work. Through stronger partnerships, corporations can apply their resources and empower their employees to reach out and help those that have lost everything,” says Nan Buzard, Senior Director, International Response & Programs, American Red Cross.
In addition to these reactionary responses, GE also engages in ongoing support efforts such as an annual gift to the Red Cross for preparedness and response, and year-round matching to employee giving.
Case Study: GE Responds To An Earthquake In China
In 2008, a major earthquake measuring close to 8.0 on the Richter scale shattered the Sichuan Province in China, leaving human tragedy and environmental ruin in its wake. Immediately GE teams sprang into action, assessing the event using global information sources that included the GE China staff, the Chinese government and the International Red Cross. Once the situation was categorized as a Level 1 disaster, cash and equipment donations were immediately considered.
Within 24 hours of the earthquake, GE Foundation had donated 1.4 million to the Chinese Red Crescent Society
Beyond the donation of $1.4 million to the Chinese Red Crescent Society, GE Foundation also donated another $1.4 million in GE products to the Chinese provincial government. These products included:
- Emergency lighting for search and rescue missions
- Healthcare products for hospital tents
- Water purification systems for shelters and clinics
To ensure a rapid and orderly distribution of these products, GE partnered with its GE China staff, a local distributor and the Chinese military.
Case Study: GE Responds To The Crisis in Darfur
Stemming not from a natural disaster, but rather a human disaster, the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan presents a unique perspective from which to study GE’s response to disaster relief. After assessing the severity of the situation and identifying critical areas of support, GE and GE Foundation have provided more than $5 million to the crisis in the Darfur region. An important part of that commitment included $500,000 in healthcare equipment to support the humanitarian efforts of the International Medical Corps (IMC).
Unique to this crisis was the dangerous and painstaking process of reaching those in need. In June 2009, IMC began the difficult journey of transporting critical GE healthcare equipment — including mobile X-rays, ultrasounds, baby warmers, patient monitors and fetal dopplers — to conflict and poverty-stricken communities in Chad. After months of labor, the medical equipment was successfully installed in three targeted hospitals, and is now helping to provide care to nearly 200,000 people, including 30,000 people displaced from Darfur.
The difficult journey from the airport to the hospitals was captured by the IMC team on the ground in Chad. See the impact of their work in the following video vignettes:
October 16, 2009
Making an impact with GE’s medical aid in A’beche, Chad
“If the facility was not here in A’beche, the next available response would be to transport the patient from A’beche to N’djamena.” (A distance of 950 miles.)
— dayan woldemichael, country director for imc in chad
Now that the medical equipment has been installed in the hospitals and the local staff has been trained, the benefits of the new technologies are being felt by the patients in the community. Staff can now use the ultrasound and X-ray machines to make proper diagnoses and then measure healing process. If it were not for the A’beche facility, some patients would need to travel 950 miles to the next closest facility in N’djamena — a costly and oftentimes difficult alternative.
August 18, 2009
Up & Running: Docs in Chad Power-up GE’s Medical Aid
“Although the staff had been trained with this equipment when they were in medical school, this was the first chance for them to use them while they were in practice.”
— dayan woldemichael, country director for imc in chad
Following the successful delivery of the GE medical equipment to three hospitals in Chad, local medical staff from each location gathered in Abeche to attend training in machine assembly and operation. The new technologies — including mobile X-rays, ultrasounds, baby warmers, patient monitors and fetal dopplers — are now in use, making a big difference to the level of care available to 200,000 people in these communities, including 30,000 people displaced as a result of the crisis in Darfur.
July 14, 2009
Journey from the Airport to the Hospital
“The hardest part was getting the shipment from the airport. It took us almost three weeks to have them cleared.”
— ibrahim mansaray, imc logistics officer in chad
When the supply of product donations were cleared at the airport on May 7, 2009, they began their slow and sometimes difficult journey across Chad. IMC Logistics Officer Ibrahim Mansaray traveled with the cargo from N’Djamena to Abeche, a journey of 950 kilometers (590 miles), then on to Guere a, which was another 170 kilometers (106 miles) away.
June 2, 2009
On the Ground with International Medical Corps
“International Medical Corps is currently responding to the needs of more than one and a quarter million people in the region but is faced with constant shortages of staff, medical supplies and equipment.”
GE product donations reaching IMC teams will be used to improve healthcare delivery to refugee populations, helping with medical diagnostics and monitoring, improving maternal health and reducing child mortality. Hospitals that are receiving GE product donations serve up to 480,000 people in the region.