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Paramedic tells of Haiti trauma

DURBAN paramedic Yougen Pillay has said South Africa has so much to be thankful for.

DURBAN paramedic Yougen Pillay has said South Africa has so much to be thankful for.

Pillay, an experienced paramedic and rescuer, was among the team of Durban University of Technology lecturers who volunteered to offer emergency medical care and rescue in Haiti.

His group was the second disaster relief team to be deployed to the Carribbean Island by the KZN-based Gift of the Givers Foundation and Red Cross.

He returned to the province at the weekend after 10 days in the earthquake-ravaged country.

Pillay said their time was spent assisting doctors with wound management and amputations and assisting mostly children and the elderly.

"It was sad seeing children being left orphaned and in one case a toddler wouldn't allow us to tend to her dressings on her crushed foot saying her mother was coming to do it.

"We later established that her mother had died."

He said interpreters were on hand to assist with the French translations.

"We are sensitised to trauma in this country at accident and crime scenes but a natural disaster is something else," said Pillay.

"Even more sad, was knowing that the victims were already living in extreme poverty and the little they had was taken away in a matter of seconds."

He said the people are on the edge.

"Some of us saw the looting as people are desperate for food and water," he said.

He said in one incident a mob of 300 people stormed a helicopter that was about to land with food and water.

"The pilot could not land and this showed the desperation."

He said another urgent need is for foreign aid to continue with the medical care and the rebuilding of hospitals.

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