CADUS: A Crisis Response Makerspace In Berlin

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CADUS: A Crisis Response Makerspace In Berlin

Trying to make the world a better place – not an unusual goal for a humanitarian aid organization. However, at CADUS we take the „making“ literally: in our Crisis Response Makerspace in Berlin, we innovate and build solutions for challenges in international emergency response. Projects range from soldering kits for open source patient monitoring to welding old trucks, thereby creating a complete Mobile Hospital.

The Mobile Hospital was one of our biggest projects so far. Soon after its founding in 2014, CADUS became active in North-East Syria. In the area around Kobane, we started working with local partners who fought against the advance of the so-called Islamic State (IS). An early project entailed providing basic paramedic training to first responders. Again and again, we witnessed how the dynamically moving front line forced health care points to close down, and even heard about regular attacks on clinics. Together with our local partners, we came up with the idea to respond to this dynamic situation by building a Mobile Hospital.

Back in Berlin, we activated our broad network, gathered funds and skills, and started working on the project. Continuous support form a wide range of organizations, institutions and individuals was – and still is – the lifeblood of CADUS. The Crisis Response Makerspace exclusively runs on donations. Without the generous contributions from different manufacturers, we could not have brought the Mobile Hospital on its way. In their usual daytime jobs, our skilled volunteers organize festivals, work as carpenters and electricians, study industrial design, or work in the IT sector. Being a highly professional medical and technical humanitarian aid organization with a profound background in research and innovation, and in making and hacking, is what makes CADUS unique.

Once the construction of the Mobile Hospital was finished, it took up its journey to North-East Syria. How long and eventful this journey would be, was still unknown when it rolled off our yard in early 2017. How to get two 4WD trucks, a Landrover and a trailer across several borders and into an active war zone? Not an easy task. It demanded some of the most important skills in humanitarian aid: meticulously completing endless paperwork, and having an awful lot of patience. We managed to get the Mobile Hospital as far as Erbil in Iraq. But there we hit a dead end, for the time being: with conflict and war on both sides, the border between Northern Iraq and North-East Syria was closed for our vehicles. But we were hardly able to catch our breath. A little south of Erbil, a fierce fight to liberate Mosul from the grip of the IS was going on. By request of UN bodies, we deployed part of our Mobile Hospital with a medical and technical team close to the frontline and set up a Trauma Stabilization Point in an abandoned building. There, our team treated heavily injured people so they would survive the transport to the next hospital.

A year later, we finally managed to get the Mobile Hospital across the border to North-East Syria and handed it over to our local partner, with whom we are still cooperating today. As our latest joint project in the region, we are now running a field hospital in Al Hol, a camp for Internally Displaced Persons. There, we are following the same principle as with all our projects: when we come across challenges to our work in the field, and we take these back to Berlin as tasks for our makerspace. One of the latest open questions was: how to incinerate medical waste during emergency response in an adequate way that meets international standards? For small mobile teams, there is no solution on the market yet. We collaborated with a university on that question and had a very skilled student dedicating his Bachelor thesis to solve this problem. Using a special kind of fabric and combining it with an embedded control system, he created a scalable, modular solution that meets the requirements specified by the World Health Organization. Our makers are now aiming to take the project to even further heights: how can the thermal energy of the incinerator be used for providing hot water for an emergency medical team in the field?

We love spaces for making and hacking, and we think there should be more of them in the world. Therefore, CADUS is not just running its own, but regularly contributes to creating these extraordinary spaces: during the annual conferences of the Chaos Computer Club, we build the Open Infrastructure Orbit. At Fusion Festival – the cradle of CADUS – and at the Chaos Communication Camp, we are known for sawing and hammering well into the night.

This year CADUS celebrates its 5th anniversary. A good moment to thank all our supporters and friends who have accompanied us on our path: this would all not have been possible without you. To keep on making the world a better place for the next five years, we are always looking for further support, be it though volunteering, donations, or by contributing a creative idea. Gifts of decommissioned but still well-functioning machines and devices are also highly appreciated.

Check out our website for more details about what we are doing at the Crisis Response Makerspace and drop us a message if would like to support:

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Corinna Schäfer

Corinna is a founding member of the charitable independent humanitarian aid organization CADUS e.V. She coordinates the research and innovation projects of the organization, and teaches a class on innovation in humanitarian emergency response at a Berlin University of Applied Sciences. Corinna has a strong interest in open source projects for humanitarian aid, and supports their realization at the CADUS Crisis Response Makerspace. Currently, one of her central projects is the Life Sensor, an open source and repairable kit for vital parameter monitoring.

View more articles by Corinna Schäfer


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