By Sophie York
A compassionate and occasionally surprising account of the Boxing Day tsunami advised by way of the 1st Australian surgical workforce into Banda Aceh.
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Extra info for Angels of Aceh: The compelling story of Operation Tsunami Assist
To while away the time, the team grabbed a stick and a ball and started a game of backyard cricket with the locals. The pilot called Bernard from the cockpit. ’ ‘Leave it with me,’ said Bernard. The air flight space around Banda Aceh was still too congested and no landing slots were being given. The impact of the heavy weight of the plane on the small airfield’s runway was also being debated, as was its manoeuvrability, which also didn’t help the cause for flying in. A backdrop to these discussions was the fact that the import of the immense tsunami tragedy—and the impact of the international response—was still sinking in with the Indonesian authorities.
They were in no position to argue the toss, and they knew that questions are not always answered in disaster situations. You have to roll with what is happening. They agreed. They would work it out somehow. They were there to build bridges, to get something established for later teams and the arrangement merely added impetus to what probably would have eventuated anyway. Greg Norman and a handful of Army medics had already made a plan to work at Kesdam. Some of the CASTA team could undoubtedly be made useful there too.
He was eager to help and good at doing most practical things. He was married to Kerrieanne, a father of three girls, two in their twenties and one in her teens, and had a new grandchild, little Emily, and of course, his dog, Annie. He would later tell the team, with a twinkle in his eye, that being outnumbered by the girls in the house meant he would continue to volunteer for deployments. He worked in the rescue section. m. m. the next day. Watto never thought twice about it. Major emergency response was the specialty of his section.
Angels of Aceh: The compelling story of Operation Tsunami Assist by Sophie York