MOAS: MIGRANT OFFSHORE AID STATION:Testimony of the Month

Annie, a paramedic on board the MOAS vessel the Phoenix, describes her experience of the Easter weekend rescues, in which the team rescued and assisted around 1,800 people.

"It's difficult to say how I felt during the rescue. Medically speaking, individually there was nothing I wasn't ready for. You have an idea of which injuries or illness you might see and we were prepared and able to treat all patients.

It was the sheer volume of people that I wasn't ready for. For the first six or seven hours of the rescue, the medical team we very busy with triaging, treating and initiating post rescue care. I remember walking out on deck to see a patient and realising at that point just how precarious a situation we had found ourselves in. We were already at capacity and yet just walking the 12 metres back to clinic I could see three rubber boats and the wooden boat. We were close enough then that you could make out just how many people were surrounding us in the water. We had hundreds and hundreds of people around us and no one coming to help. It was just us there.

Death is part of my job. I know that and I've accepted it. However, I'm used to two types of death: a healthy person who dies suddenly or a sick person who dies slowly. Looking around at that moment I remember thinking to myself that there was a huge potential for us to spend the next hours and days watching healthy people die slowly.

That one moment of realisation is what I remember most about the rescue. Each and every face out there had the potential be rescued and taken to safety, but no one was coming. We couldn't take them and we were getting no support that I knew of. I took a deep breath and told myself that I needed to get ready for the possibility of watching healthy people die in their hundreds. And being able to do nothing about it.

There's no class on that in paramedic school. There's nothing that can prepare you for that. We're the paramedics; we'll go help you if you need it and give you the best possible odds of survival. The prospect of having to watch these people die as I looked on helpless is a feeling I'll remember for the rest of my days. We were doing everything we could but we couldn't do it alone and no one was coming...

I don't know how we didn't get any fatalities that night. Some people on board have said it's a miracle. I'm not sure about that, but what I do know is how much of a testament it is to our team. They were relentless in their efforts to save each and every person around us. Their determination is what kept these people alive. I'm proud to be able to say I'm on that team. No one was going to die that day, they just weren't going to allow it if they possibly could."

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