Jake Wood (center) with members of Team Rubicon
10/03/2012 at 05:00 PM EDT
Former Marine Jake Wood watched in horror as the destruction of the 2010 Haiti earthquake unfolded on television. And he knew immediately what he needed to do.
While on combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, he and his fellow Marines learned to help others in desperate situations to make an immediate difference wherever they were needed.
So within four days, Wood, 29, assembled a group of veterans and medics and left his home in Los Angeles for Port-au-Prince. There, he and his team immediately set to work digging people out of the rubble, setting broken bones and delivering babies.
"Veterans," says Wood, "know what to do in a crisis."
And with that mission, Team Rubicon
was born. Today, Wood's network has grown to some 3,000 volunteers who deploy as quick-response squads to disaster zones ranging from Sudan to Joplin, Mo.
This past August, a team of 28 men and women cleared fallen trees in Louisiana so rescue workers could get to residents trapped by Hurricane Isaac's floodwaters.
Says hurricane survivor Christy Graves of Slidell, La.: "They were a godsend."
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