Haiti Earthquake Medical Aid May Take 'Military'-Style Operation

"It is leaving a communication gap," said Lutz.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said natural disasters of the past have shown what can go wrong without proper communication.

"The lessons we have taken from events like Katrina is the coordination and organization of response so we can respond faster," said Redlener.

Redlener says, "Fatality rates well in excess of 100,000 are likely," considering the extent of damage and the current poor health of the population in Port-au-Prince.

Relief Tactics in Haiti's National Disaster

In his research, Redlener found emergency response works best if it goes in stages; first, with a search and rescue phase; then, assurance of social order, providing shelter and general care for survivors, assuring clean water and food, preventing and treating secondary injuries, and finally, controlling public health hazards and infection.

Doctors are especially concerned about waterborne diseases, such as diarrheal illness.

"And we also know, as a general lesson that we continually experience is, the worse the preconditions, especially poverty and infrastructure, the worse the disaster will be," said Redlener.

That is not to say the relief organizations already on their way aren't organized.

President Barack Obama has already dispatched several U.S. ships, including the Navy's aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, which will serve as a ferry to helicopters dropping supplies.

First to arrive would be the U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing which will help provide air traffic control at Port-au-Prince's crippled airport for the expected relief flights full of supplies.

In addition, four U.S. Coast Guard cutters were due to arrive Wednesday, loaded with food, water and medical supplies.

Doctors say Haiti has such a poor infrastructure, that any medical assistance would fill a gap.

"I know very few physicians who practice in Haiti full time. If they are physicians, they often come to practice in the states. There aren't subspecialties in Haiti, either, like we are accustomed to in the states," said Dr. Mojitaba Gashti of Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore. Gashti travels to the northern city of Milot, in Haiti, every year for surgical missions.

"Really, this is the last place you want something like this to happen," said Gashti. "The level of poverty is worse than what you think."

Fournier believes any efforts in Haiti will not do lasting good unless international efforts focus on the economic issues that led to the weak infrastructure -- namely, poverty. Fournier said that Haiti's traditional rural economy has not been able to provide basic sustenance for its people, and as a result, families crowd the city's capital looking for a way to survive.

"It's time to stop Band-Aid crisis management in Haiti. We have to go to long-term solutions," said Fournier.

ABC News' Bradley Blackburn and MedPage Today's Michael Smith contributed to this report.

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