Paramedic returns from New Zealand
IT was like a scene from the movie I am Legend.
As Rockhampton's Brad Norris and his team trekked through the earthquake-ravaged city centre of Christchurch, New Zealand, it felt like time had come to a standstill.
“There were still bottles of wine open, the tram had stopped and there was uncollected money in the casino,” Brad reflected yesterday after his seven-day experience as an intensive care paramedic in NZ.
Brad returned from his deployment in Christchurch on Saturday where his main role was to man a temporary field hospital set up in the wake of the earthquake disaster.
He was also tasked to assess buildings in the city centre during the search and rescue operation.
“We lived in the city centre in a camp set-up for paramedics and firefighters from all over the world. It was guarded by police and army tanks,” Brad said.
Brad was part of the second wave of emergency workers from Queensland to be deployed along with Anthony Clark from Toowoomba.
“We went over expecting no-one to be alive, it was very eerie,” he said.
He said 700 patients went through the field hospital in two weeks and during the week he was on deck, only one body was pulled from the rubble.
An experience Brad became acquainted to in Christchurch was the feeling of aftershocks five to seven times a day.
“It was like you were standing on jelly. One night we were eating dinner and the shipping containers put up to protect us from buildings started to rattle,” he said.
On one occasion Brad and his mate Anthony came across a finger on the bonnet of a car.
Aside from the shocking scenes in Christchurch, Brad said the patients and people of New Zealand were grateful for their work.
“They were overwhelmed by the countries that came to help and their spirits were high. They would tell us ‘cheers bro' and ‘you're awesome',” Brad said.
Brad, who worked 14 days straight, said the experience was unlike any other in his career.
While he said he would enjoy the next 10 days off with his two children, he has put his hand up for a potential second deployment to the disaster-affected Japan.