The scale of recent catastrophes has highlighted the need for a rapid response by logistics operators volunteering to help affected areas. When disaster occurs, relief goods are quickly assembled and delivered, but distribution remains a big challenge. In view of this, DHL entered into a long-term strategic partnership with the United Nations over disaster management in 2006. It has also agreed to support the UN's disaster preparedness and disaster response initiatives. The company's most visible contribution is the DHL Disaster Response Team (DRT), which is run in co-operation with the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The DRT is usually deployed after consulting DHL's partners and at the invitation of the government of the country affected by the disaster. The DRT's main goal is to keep the airport open and the relief supply chain flowing. It does this by co-ordinating incoming relief goods off aircraft through the setting up and management of a warehouse operation at the airport for organising, sorting and stacking of relief goods. The team works closely with the airport authorities, customs, security and the national disaster co-ordinating body while arranging the loading of goods onto vehicles. 'In disaster relief, getting aid quickly to where it is needed is key. We at DHL are committed to facilitating a faster and more effective disaster relief process through our expertise in logistics solutions,' said Jerry Hsu, president for Greater China of DHL Express Asia Pacific. 'As disaster management is one of the three pillars of DHL corporate sustainability strategy, over the years we have continuously given our support through DHL volunteers at the onset of natural disasters.' There are three DRTs in DHL, co-ordinated from Panama in the Americas, Dubai for the Middle East and Africa, and Singapore in the Asia-Pacific region. They are made up of about 200 employees and teams can be deployed within 72 hours and for a period of up to three weeks. Only this month, the DRT was deployed to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the Philippines at the invitation of the government. The team has handled incoming solicited relief goods and supported non-government organisations. The DRT co-ordinated the first relief shipments from a UN World Food Programme 747 aircraft. It set up a temporary warehousing and cross-docking operation at the airport for the sorting and documenting of a full inventory of donated goods. In Indonesia, the DRT received an official request by the UN to deploy following several destructive earthquakes this month. The team was deployed to Padang Airport, which has handled first incoming relief flights bringing in medical supplies. The team has handled about 150 tonnes of relief material, including shelters, medical supplies and generators. The DRT helps to reduce bottlenecks and keep the airport open for additional relief flights.