Duane Compton, 28, traveled to Haiti earlier this month to install a wireless network at the Pierre Payen Hospital near St. Marc, about 50 miles northwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Compton's detailed account of his trip was published this week in Network World, the online industry newsletter.
Compton, who grew up in Lexington and graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science from the University of Vermont, volunteered to go to Haiti as part of a North Shore volunteer earthquake relief project.
Compton's employer, Bluesocket, a networking firm based in Burlington, donated one of the firm's wireless local area networks for the hospital, which has treated numerous patients from the January earthquake. The lack of a network was frustrating doctors and other staff who couldn't communicate among themselves internally or access up-to-date medical information needed for treating patients.
Duane Compton, a software engineer from Cambridge, installing the network at Pierre Payen Hospital in Haiti. (Courtesy Network World newsletter).
Compton accompanied a mission to Haiti on March 6 organized by investor and philanthropist Sam Byrne, who lives in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Surgeons and other medical personal from Beverly Hospital and other facilities joined the relief mission. The chartered flight, donated by Dow Chemical, was packed with donated clothes, used cell phones and other goods collected by North Shore residents.
The challenges included dashing across back and forth across a dangerous highway outside the hospital, between locations. But the new network was instantly valued by the doctors and staff.
Compton wrote in Network World:
This was far from a typical implementation -- I, for one, had never before needed to hang an access point in a tree, or work three feet away from a doctor performing an amputation. However, once set up the effect of the Internet was obvious to everyone.
It was gratifying to see the impact the Internet had on the location, and witness doctors enabled with life-saving information. They frequently reminded us of the power of this project and how grateful they were. One morning, while I was eating breakfast, an American plastic surgeon working at the hospital grabbed my laptop to study up on how to perform a hysterectomy he was performing in 20 minutes.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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