Biomedical photography students help with relief efforts for Haitian earthquake victims

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Paul Crompton

RIT biomedical photographic communications students sort through medical supplies heading to Haiti.

RIT students are doing what they can here in Rochester to help earthquake victims in Haiti get desperately needed medical care.

Earlier this week, students from RIT’s biomedical photographic communications program sorted, weighed and loaded medical supplies heading to Haiti. They were part of the volunteer effort for Intervol, a non-profit organization based in Rochester that collects and distributes donated medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and organizations around the world.

Intervol founder Ralph Pennino, M.D., chief of the plastic and reconstructive surgery department at Rochester General Hospital, and Professor Michael Peres, RIT program chair of biomedical photographic communications, co-teach a surgical photography course as part of RIT’s strategic alliance with Rochester General Health System.

Pennino, Peres, and their students spent several hours Tuesday night organizing supplies at a Rochester warehouse where Intervol stores its medical equipment.

“It was great to have the students come out,” says Pennino. “Intervol is sending more than 3,000 pounds of medical supplies to Leogane, Haiti, within the next several days. The area was hit pretty hard. It’s estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 people were killed in Leogane. No aid got there until five days after the earthquake. Our goal is to get these supplies in there as quickly as possible.”

Medical supplies like bandages and antibiotics are among the items being flown in.

“Being able to volunteer our time for Intervol means we can help others without having to be doctors or medical students,” says Josh Shagam, fourth-year biomedical photographic communications student and president of RIT’s Biomedical Photography Student Association. “Our organization has a history of putting our student community to use for humanitarian efforts, so it was logical to organize a group of us to help. The recent earthquake in Haiti has obviously made Intervol’s cause particularly pertinent. I was impressed by the size of the operation and the dedication of the individuals running it. “

To learn more about Intervol, visit