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Helimission on Nias within 24 hours
Earthquake on Easter-Monday night, March 28, 2005 (8.7 on the Richter scale).
Earthquake on Easter-Monday night
Our helicopter, the Bell 206 L4 (PK-HCT), was still based in Meulaboh on the West-Coast of Sumatra. That’s why Helimission was one of the first to help on Nias, the Indonesian Island most affected by the earthquake. Our Pilot, Brian Smith, together with our Indonesian co-worker, Jan Tulaseket, flew to Nias on March 29, 2005 only to find a devastated place. There was no fuel on the only airport “Binaka” on the island.
Our team quickly organized themselves with the organization Samaritans-Purse with another helicopter, with MAF and other small fixed-wing operators. The heli brings the insured to the airport Binaka where there is a place for triage done by small aid organizations which are part of the “family”. From there the airplanes take the patients to hospitals on the main island of Sumatra (Medan, etc.). On their return flights they bring the desperately needed fuel for the helicopters.
This way we can make a big difference in this latest tragedy. Nias was not hit too hard by the Tsunami in December 2004, but this second earthquake destroyed most buildings on the island, burying many hundred people underneath.
The UN has a hard time to get the aid-efforts organized. One handicap is that only SAT-phones work on the island.
Here are the reports from Luana Smith, the wife of our pilot there:
March 31, 2005 Day 3:
11:15 am Thursday: Brian called as he had a break. He said he was about to take off again on a flight and he had to shut down as the military ordered all aircraft to remain on the ground as the president of Indonesia was visiting. Brian had just returned from a flight bringing a little girl who had a broken arm, leg and ribs to get flown out to the main island. There were about 16 injured there waiting for the next flight to the hospital. He had taken a team of French doctors out to a village to treat and triage the injured that needed to be flown out. He was quite impressed with the French team (as with the OBI team) as they just rolled right into action and very organized, not a common site with so many others still standing around dazed.
Fuel still remains a problem. MAF was able to supply him with two drums and the Indonesian military with one. Part of the problem is to make sure the fuel is there the next time he gets back to refuel.
His voice on the phone sounded better but he said he was two days away from a shower and three from a shave! The tent he slept in last night was muggy to say the least. It was starting to rain again, he said the people sure need a break from that.
March 30, 2005 Day 2:
Brian is remaining on the island of Nias helping out with the injured. He waited part of the morning on the UN as things were chaotic trying to put some order after such a great disaster. Someone approached him and asked him to please come help with injured they had. There were also requests for flights to the west of the island and to the south but with fuel still not organized so he decided to do what was in front of him first. For the rest of the day he flew some 20 injured from the outer areas to the airport. Most were crush type injuries. At the airport there was a medical team from OBI (Operation Blessing Indonesia whom we have been working with). They helped the injured before they would get on airplanes to the hospitals on the main island of Sumatra.
He called me Wednesday evening as he was telling me of his day and that he was not sure where he was going to sleep for the night. He said please pray he would not get bit up by mosquitoes with malaria as his belongings had not caught up with him yet. He ended up sleeping in a tent.
Bell 206 L4, PK-HCT
Pilot & Mechaniker: Brian Smith aus USA
Flughelfer und Übersetzer (langjähriger indon. MA der HM in Papua): Jan Tulaseket
Helikopter: Bell 206 L4, PK-HCT
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Helimission, P.O. Box 1100, Montreat, NC 28757.