DRPS Cst. Richard Fantinato, who is currently stationed in Haiti, recently took advantage of some pre-scheduled vacation time to visit friends, family and colleagues at home in Durham Region. He returns to Haiti next week until his mission ends on April 20.
Cst. Fantinato is stationed in Jacmel, Haiti. When the earthquake struck on Jan. 12, Cst. Fantinato was in his office at his computer, writing an email to his three children.
“When I felt the shaking, I went outside with six or seven other officers and we just tried to keep our balance. The earthquake lasted about 35-40 seconds. It was like standing up in an airplane going through turbulence,” says Cst. Fantinato.
Though Jacmel is approximately 40 kilometres away from capital Port-au-Prince, Cst. Fantinato says the destruction is just as severe. The house he shared with several other officers was completely destroyed.
After the earthquake, Cst. Fantinato assisted with several relief efforts in the Jacmel area. Because he is bilingual and has many personal connections to locals, he was appointed to escort the Officer-In-Charge of the Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) for the first few days when they arrived on Haitian ground. He has also performed security patrol for local food distribution centres and other peacekeeping efforts.
“Through all the devastation, what keeps me going is moments of hope – like when we found a three-week-old baby girl alive from the rubble of a house more than a week after the earthquake,” says Cst. Fantinato.
“Haitians are resilient, friendly, loving people. They are so appreciative of everything we do and I just can’t wait to go back to help in any way I can.”
Cst. Fantinato’s current mission is part of a United Nations stabilization effort. He also participated in a similar mission in Haiti for nine months in 2006.
In April 2009, he was presented with an award from GlobalMedic for volunteering as part of its Rapid Response team in 2008, assisting flood victims in Haiti after hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike. Click here to view a GlobalMedic video about his volunteer efforts in 2008.
He has also served in Israel, Cyprus, and Syria.
DRPS commends Cst. Fantinato for his strength and courage as he assists with Haitian relief efforts.
Cst. Fantinato is not available for media interviews at this time, as his short trip home will be spent with family.
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Cst. Fantinato on the street of Jacmel, before the earthquake on Jan. 12 (JPG file, 56.3K bytes)
Cst. Fantinato with children of Jacmel, before the earthquake on Jan. 12 (JPG file, 59.3K bytes)
The house Cst. Fantinato shared with other peacekeeping officers, destroyed by the earthquake (JPG file, 57.9K bytes)
A picture Cst. Fantinato took on the street of the destruction in Jacmel (JPG file, 56.1K bytes)