Veteran-led nonprofit assists with deadly wildfire response in Hawaii

Aerial Recovery personnel helped three people on Maui with an hour of arriving on the island.
Aerial Recovery personnel helped three people on Maui with an hour of arriving on the island.
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 10:20 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A Nashville nonprofit has team members assisting with medical responses in Hawaii, as the Aloha State recovers from deadly wildfires.

The wildfires engulfed the state killing at least 67 people. It’s the state’s deadliest natural disaster since 1961.

Assistance is needed as this state recovers that’s why so many organizations, including Aerial Recovery, are helping in aid with food, supplies, and medical supplies.

Thursday morning Aerial Recovery dispatched five of their team members to Lahaina, one of the earliest mostly impacted communities from the wildfires. Aerial Recovery is a Nashville nonprofit whose mission is to save lives and stop evil around the world through their Heal the Heroes Initiative, man-made and natural disaster relief, and anti-human trafficking saving over 8,000 lives in over 25 countries since its inception in 2019.

“The need is so great out here,” said Seth Griffith with Aerial Recovery from a cellphone video in Hawaii.

Griffith is one of the five members who left Middle Tennessee Thursday on a flight to Hawaii to help in aid.

“We went straight in and got access in Lahaina. We were able to treat a handful of some foot injuries and smoke inhalation,” said Griffith, Aerial Recovery’s Deputy Chief of Special Operations.

“There’s a lot of medical treatment that needs to happen,” said Jeremy Locke, Co-Founder & Chief of Special Operations, during an interview with WSMV4.

The group is assisting local authorities with medical assistance like aiding several injuries from people who were evacuating the areas.

“We have an E.R. doctor, a paramedic, an EMT and then we have a two-person drone team,” said Locke.

Locke said the team touched down Thursday.

“Once they hit the ground within an hour they were already treating casualties. They worked on three patients as soon as they hit the ground. That was on their way up to Lahaina which was one of the places most devastated by it,” said Locke.

Aerial Recovery is made up of military veterans and first responders. The nonprofit provides relief worldwide helping with search and rescue and assisting with distribution sites worldwide. The organization spent nine months helping with recovery efforts in Ukraine.

Locke said this work helps veterans expand and live out their purpose.

“Three of our five members that are in Hawaii right now are in our Heal to Heroes program. Utilizing those skills that they learned in the military to continue to be a blessing and a force of goodness in this world. And to help out people most in need,” said Locke.

This nonprofit typically spends about 7 to 21 days in disaster areas.

If you are interested in helping, click here.