Sunday, 28 May 2017

Police raid leaves Irish Tech Charity founder shaken

Disaster Tech Lab was founded as "Haiti Connect" in early 2010 by Mr Bopp, as a response to the earthquake that struck Haiti killing over 200000 people and making in excess of a million homeless.
The organisation was active in Haiti for 2.5 years completing 31 projects successfully before expanding globally and under the new name " Disaster Tech Lab". 

Since then it has responded to natural disasters across the globe in countries such as the USA, Philippines, Nepal, Fiji, Vanuatu, Ecuador, Italy and others. 

The organisation now has over 250 volunteers in 11 countries.

In January 2014 a medical component was added named "Disaster Medics". This component provided emergency medical care in disaster areas or during humanitarian aid efforts.

Following the deployment as part of the hurricane Sandy response in the USA, Disaster Tech Lab was presented with a certificate of appreciation by the deputy director of FEMA and invited to join the FEMA Innovation Team.

Disaster Tech Lab has worked together with the UNHCR, Red Cross, WHO and numerous national and local government agencies across the globe and has built up a reputation as one of the leaders in its field. 

As part of the response effort to the refugee crisis across Europe they deployed a medical team to the island of Lesvos from September 2015 - March 2016. The team was the first trained and qualified medical team on the ground. They provided first aid to arriving refugees, rescued drowning people out of the sea, designed and implemented a mass casualty response plan for all NGO's etc.

In December 2015 they received a donation of medical supplies from a pharmacy in Galway. This donation included bandaged, OTC pain medication, antiseptic cream etc but also a quantity of antibiotic & blood pressure medication. The latter two were not really what they required but as they came as part of a larger donation they accepted it. The antibiotics and blood pressure medication expired in early 2016 and have been kept in storage as we did not have an acceptable way of disposing of them, and other pressing issues were the main attention.

Then on the 11th May, HPRA officers from Dublin, arrived at the house of Mr Bopp and his family, the family was rounded up and pushed to the floor and hand cuffed whilst the house and its contents were searched after over an hour and in some discomfort Mr Bopp was informed that they would prepare a file and consider what further action to take. They turned and left leaving the Bopp family shaken.

The seized computers and laptops, limiting the ongoing work of the organisation. Mr Bopp, commented ' All this could have been avoided if the HPRA had called to my door, written to me or even phoned. Their actions are out of all proportions.'

Either way it seems heavy handed for a small Tech charity and its founder.