Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We just want to go home.

Injured are airlifted out by the RNZAF.
When people are hurt and afraid, all they want is to get home. As fast as possible. Foreign nationals critically injured in the Samoa tsunami were airlifted out of Samoa. One woman remembers talking to the injured tourists in the hospital the morning after the tsunami. “They were so polite and appreciative of everything we were doing for them. We asked them if they needed anything else and they said, no, no we’re fine… But then, the first medical team arrived from Australia. They walked into the ward and as soon as they spoke to these tourists, those girls just burst into tears, they said, please, please can you help us, please get us out of here,we just want to go home. My heart just went out to them, I cried inside for them.”

The first airlift went out on Wednesday afternoon, the last on Friday. Aussie paramedic Steve Williams helped get the patients ready and moved out to the helicopters that would ferry them to the international airport some distance out of Apia. “The evacuation team were fantastic. Their attitude with the patients was really good – like if it was someone who was a bit large, they’d lift them on the stretcher and they’d all scream and grunt and carry on joking, overemphasise it, get the patient laughing. They actually played around with the patients and tried to make it more enjoyable for them, showing humor in what was a really scary situation for some of them.”

The helicopters landed in a small grassy patch between the emergency morgue and the wards. “The last lift was 8:30 at night, pitch black and so the pilot flew in blind and watching them come in was just magnificent. They had to land in this small space and it’s not even flat, there’s a dip in the ground and they landed in the dip, and I’m going geeze! Even in daylight it was pretty impressive and you think back and you’re just so impressed with what these pilots did. I watched all the patients go and it was a really nice feeling when the last chopper took off that night, knowing everyone was on their way home to their families.”

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