Von der Katastrophen- zur Basismedizin

by Prof. Dr. Dr. Bernd Domres, Matthias Gerloff, Ruth Bücker/SHU, 2011/11/02

Bereits 30 Stunden nach dem verheerenden Erdbeben im Osten der Türkei war ein humedica-Team am Ort des Geschehens. Ausgestattet mit medizinischem Equipment unterstützten Katastrophenmediziner Prof. Dr. Dr. Bernd Domres und Krankenpfleger Matthias Gerloff die lokalen Hilfskräfte in einer provisorisch eingerichteten Ambulanz.

Die Suche nach Überlebenden prägte die Arbeit der Hilfskräfte in den ersten Tagen des Einsatzes. Foto: humedica/Ruth Bücker.

Unmittelbar nach der Ankunft in Ercis fuhren die humedica-Einsatzkräfte mit lokalen Rettungswägen in das Stadtzentrum, wo seit Sonntagmittag die Rettungsmaßnahmen unter Hochdruck vorangetrieben wurden.

Together with Turkish honorary assistants, who had travelled to Ercis from all over the country, the humedica team was ready to offer emergency aid. On one of the collapsed buildings, a rescue team had already dug down eight metres through the floors of a house that had once had several storeys. At the end of the tunnel they found a buried woman.

But sadly, the hopes of rescuing her from the ruins alive were destroyed: After the young woman had been given a drip infusion and had been amputated one leg, she died of the consequences of her injuries.

The humedica team could assist with treating a member of a rescue team, who had suffered an injury to his ankle and a ligament rupture.

During the following days, the medical assistants of humedica worked at a gym on the outskirts of Ercis that had been turned into a makeshift hospital. Those who had been rescued from the rubble were taken there in order to stabilise their condition.

A gym is turned into a makeshift hospital. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

Depending on the severity of their injury, the patients were either taken in, and treated further by us, or they were prepared for being transported on to Van, at a distance of 90 kilometres, or other big cities. Due to the earthquake, the municipal hospital of Ercis had been damaged to a degree that it could no longer been entered without danger - and by no means could any one work there.

During the time the humedica team assisted at the makeshift hospital, about 5000 patients were treated there. During the first five days, most of those treated were the ones who had been rescued from the ruins and rubble.

The emergency department consisted of three beds and the necessary equipment, such as oxygen cylinders and infusion stands, ECG units and further necessary materials.

Besides the physical injuries typical in earthquake victims, the humedica team members also were aware of their psychological wounds, and reflected a lot about them.

"Even with patients suffering from minor wounds, merely asking them for the source of their injury could cause them to burst into tears", told nurse Matthias Gerloff thoughtfully. "But what was much worse than that was the encounter with individuals who no longer seemed to think or feel at all. They suffered from severe depressions up to downright physical numbness. Unfortunately, these psychological problems occurred quite frequently."

Nurse Matthias Gerloff is treating a little Turkish girl. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

According to the explanations of the nurse from Tübingen, it was above all the apparent minor miracles that motivated the humedica team and local employees to continue their work: "When someone overcame that mental and physical numbness and took up contact once more, and could eventually get up and go home again - those were the moments that I will never forget. `Small things", that cause an entire working day to become valuable."

But despite all the sorrow and the difficult, sad moments, after more than one week of working with injured, ill and traumatised patients, the humedica team is above all feeling grateful.

Grateful for having had the opportunity to do this work and grateful for the many words of thanks that the relief assistants had been told in numerous different ways. For the people in Ercis it was special to realise that German relief assistants had come such a long way in order to help the Turkish population in misery.

"Many of them expressed their thanks - in a way that could also be understood without many words, in a way that was touching and helped us to bear many sad things more easily", said Matthias Gerloff on his last evening at the emergency department.

108 hours after the earthquake the last buried person that could be rescued alive was found. After that, the focus shifted from the search for further buried persons to the earthquake itself and its consequences. Step by step, every-day life at a small hospital was returning.

Everything a doctor needs: the stock of medical material at the gym-hospital. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

The humedica team was now both treating comparatively harmless colds, and children with severe burnings that were caused by camp fires or heatings. Furthermore, we treated stroke patients and patients suffering from respiratory difficulties.

In cooperation with the Turkish rescue team, the humedica assistants also took care of medical follow-up treatment and basic medical care. On the last evening, we had to collect all our remaining strength once more, when a young man, who had had a serious accident, was taken to our emergency department at the gym.

In the meantime, the gym has been turned into a temporary, but nevertheless well-functioning and well-equipped hospital. Three tents have been set up for treating children and adult in-patients. Furthermore, there is a department for births and gynaecology. We even dispose of a x-ray unit.

After having implemented joint medical emergency treatment of the earthquake victims, the humedica mission team members will now leave Ercis. Having been present in Ercis and having helped there as long as our help was necessary, was important.

Relief assistants are working hand in hand. humedica employees and Turkish relief assistants are loading relief goods. Photo: humedica/Ruth Bücker

But now it is important to accompany the people on their way into future and to help them with reconstruction measures. Please support our efforts. Thank you very much!

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Earthquake Relief Turkey
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can achieve great things by means of a little text message: send the reference DOC to 8 11 90 and you will make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica disaster relief projects.

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