As news of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria unfolded, we learned that the Turkish Embassy in Singapore had initiated a donation drive at the Expo Centre, a large open space that it had secured through the Singapore government. In addition, the Singaporean Civil Defense Force (SCDF) had offered trucks and manpower to support with the movement of critical goods and donations.
Having significant global logistics experience in supporting Governments, IGOs and NGOs with relief efforts in complex environments, we understood that the Embassy and its small team might need additional support. So, the MedSupply team at International SOS, Singapore, immediately got in touch.
A key challenge faced by the Embassy was how to organise and separate damaged vs. usable donated items. In addition, there was a pressing need for more people to support with open space management, logistics, packing and sorting.
Driven by International SOS’s core values of passion, care and expertise the MedSupply team set about identifying a process for sorting and packing the various items, working well into the early hours of the morning. Alongside SCDF, some of our team members prepared packaging material and helped organise the donated items as trucks dropped them off at the site. Other members of the team focused on operational streamlining: planning the layout of the site and the resources that were required.
Together with SCDF we established a basic Command Post, Incident Board, IT infrastructure for label printing and a Rest Area for volunteers. We developed safety protocols and a simple operational process to aid with the sorting and packing of donated items onto pallets. Our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team reached out to the community to mobilise additional resources while the MedSupply team reached out to our vendors and partners to procure supplies such as bags, packing boxes and other necessities. In a short space of time, we had mobilised over 100 volunteers.
Our expertise and experience in supply chain management and the effort of our teams meant that in just 36 hours we helped ship over 15 tons of humanitarian aid to Turkey courtesy of Turkish Airlines.
During the following two days, 80% of the donated goods had been sorted, packed, and labelled in Turkish so that once pick-up trucks arrived, they could be immediately dispatched. The most urgent goods – winter clothes, children’s food and clothing, women’s hygiene products, medicines and blankets – were loaded onto pallets for priority pick-up. During the next seven days, we expect the delivery of an additional 60-80 tons of usable donations to Turkey.
As an organisation, International SOS is committed to protecting and saving lives. In addition to the efforts of our teams in Singapore, International SOS has been fast to identify other ways it can support those who have been affected by the disaster. These include:
- Monitoring the situation on-the-ground in Turkey and surrounding countries and providing timely information to employees, clients and partners
- Providing emotional support to affected employees and family members through an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
Reflecting on the response to the crisis by our MedSupply team at International SOS, I am immensely proud of our people having wholeheartedly put their expertise and experience into action with remarkable operational excellence. Their proactive and consistent efforts have been invaluable in ultimately supporting vulnerable people during their time of need.
General Manager, MedSupply APEMEA