On Sunday, February 12, at half past five in the afternoon, Ester Armela was already packing her things to leave the Turkish city of Alejandreta. Suddenly he heard: “Get out! Get ready, we’re going.” It was Annika Coll, the head of the Emergency and Emergency Response Unit of the Autonomous Community of Madrid (Ericam). Ester and the other 39 people who make up the Spanish contingent of this rescue group have been in the since last Tuesday TURKEY (Rescuing a man) and losing hope of finding anyone alive beneath the rubble of this city of 250,000, hardest hit by the earthquakes, Turkish rescue workers sounded the alarm on Sunday afternoon a possibly surviving victim.
Ester Armela quickly changed into her suit and made the 15-minute bus ride from her tent to the location where the victim could be found. Once there, they took her into a dark hole. “They told me that there could be a living person there,” the 42-year-old doctor recalls at the Ericam headquarters in Madrid. “I didn’t see anything, but when I put my hand in it, I noticed someone’s hand. It wasn’t cold, but it was a bit numb and I had a hard time holding it. But there was hope. The moment I put the pulse oximeter on him to take his vital signs, he grabbed me.” It’s the first memory he has of rescuing G., a 50-year-old woman who had been living for almost seven days, all together 144 hours under the rubble.”I still get chills to this day when I remember the feeling I had when I found out she was alive,” she says.
When he first inserted a flashlight into this hole, he could see that he was still breathing because his back was moving. He had not eaten or drunk anything in seven days and was breathing upside down. When the earthquake started in the early hours of February 6, G. was buried under the eaves of the entrance to her bedroom. He was able to survive because he was in a “life hole,” as experts call the gaps that form between the rubble. However, her two daughters and her husband were not so lucky. Acting on an instinctive impulse, he was about to collect the girls when he felt the shaking, but the three were crushed in the main corridor of the house. Only G. survived. During the three hours it took her to rescue, she communicated with those who assisted her only through her hand.
The hand of the woman rescued by the Emergency and Response Unit of the Autonomous Community of Madrid (Ericam) seven days after the earthquake in Turkey, with an intraosseous line placed by Spanish health workers.
Gradually, the firefighters enlarged the hole. “It was at that moment that I heard her speak for the first time. Up until then I had held my hand and seen her breathing but not yet heard her voice,” Ester Armela recalls. The wider the hole opened, the more he wanted to move, so the paramedics on scene had to use tranquilizers. Sometimes she nodded and made a noise, but each time more rubble was removed she became very nervous. As the hours passed, the image of his hand became more and more complete. Until her doll showed up. However, because she was so dehydrated, they couldn’t give her nutrients through an IV. “It had to be an intraosseous route,” says the doctor, pointing her index finger at her own wrist. Medicines and water flowed through this channel to keep them alive. “In order for the serums that we applied to stay warm, we strapped them to our chests in our work overalls,” recalls the health worker.
Madrid firefighter Raúl Loro recalled the “bestial noise” that was in the victim’s area. These are the conditions under which the rescue was carried out: noise, trucks, ambulances and, above all, a lot of people. “But what strikes you most about the work is the smell of the bodies,” says Loro, 49, for whom the earthquake in Turkey was his first such mission. When he talks about his days there, he sometimes has to stop talking to dry his tears: “I remembered my 10-year-old son very much. Every time I saw a kid there, I remembered their face.
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subscribe toA group from Ericam, together with Turkish rescuers, rescued a woman buried under the rubble almost seven days after the earthquake in Turkey.
By 10 p.m., more than three hours after its location, G. was no longer just an arm sticking out of the rubble. They finally got her out of this hole. Very carefully they placed them on a board. His face was covered in dirt and rheum, and he had many wounds on his body that had already filled his skin with boils. Ester Armela still remembers the impression she had when she saw how dark and thick her blood was. “It didn’t flow,” he says. Still, he insists he was dying to see her face, to see what the woman was like who had been holding his hand for so many hours: “It’s something that comes to you.” On the way to the hospital, he stroked her face: “I wanted to show her my support and affection,” recalls emotional doctor Ester Armela.
But the rescue was not over yet. It was not enough to recover the corpse alive, it was also necessary to save its memories. Juan Carlos Galán, 54, and his dog Uma discovered the lifeless bodies of their daughters and husband early Monday morning. “I was looking around here and found this woman’s wedding photos. That shocked me, I couldn’t look at her. I don’t know why, but I had to look away from these images,” Galán recalls. “What does this woman have left that she will probably find again, the photos?” she asks herself and bows her head.
The Ericam team was on site for nine days. Nine days of cold, tension, exhaustion and lack of sleep. And while the journey back to Madrid was the most comfortable of them all, the memories they brought back from the horror aren’t so comfortable. All in all, the three interviewees are proud to have taken part in this mission. Juan Carlos Galán therefore argues how satisfying this job is for him: “The only thing left to the victims is that my dog barks and indicates something. If not, then the machines will come along and destroy everything.”
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