Aussie firefighter’s admirable sacrifice after quake
EARLY this week, as thousands of tourists were scrambling to leave Lombok and the Gili Islands in the wake of the magnitude seven earthquake, Perth firefighter Craig De Meillon, boarded a flight into the disaster zone.
Last night Mr De Meillon was in a devastated village in North Lombok where there was some rare good news as a tiny baby was delivered, in a tent by flashlight.
An aviation rescue firefighter in Port Headland, Mr De Meillon, was on a week's holiday in Bali when the earthquake struck in Lombok, killing more than 100 people and injuring hundreds more.
Given his skills and his previous experience with Reach Out WorldWide, a group of first responders and professionals who deploy to natural disasters, Mr De Meillon had no hesitation in volunteering and doing whatever he could to help the Lombok locals.
He flew into Lombok and went by car to the worst affected area, in the north.
The death toll from Sunday night's earthquake now stands at 105 with hundreds more injured and authorities say the toll will rise further, as more buildings are searched.
Dozens of people are believed crushed under one mosque. Tens of thousands of people are without homes and shelter.
Lombok airport is operating normally and an extra five flights have been put on today (Wed) to help clear the backlog of tourists desperate to get out.
Almost 5000 people have been taken by boat from the Gili Islands, near Lombok, back to Bali.
As Mr De Meillon flew into Lombok on Monday, thousands of tourists, caught up in the chaos, were scrambling to get out.
"It was in ruins, there were people all along the streets and everyone was asking for help and for donations. I pulled up at one area and I found some guys digging in the rubble and helped them," Mr De Meillon told News Corporation.
"Right now there is a lack of electricity, a lack of food. There was a lot of traffic and a lot of chaos. I was basically the only westerner there," he said.
Together with a sniffer dog K9 unit, he started digging through rubble and helping the local search and rescue effort, looking for survivors under the crumbled buildings.
Mr De Meillon went to the worst affected area at Tanjung where the local hospital was unworkable and people were being treated outside.
"That's where the chaos is happening. It was quite unorganised and unsanitary there but they were making the best of a bad situation."
Mr De Meillon went to work, helping the medical staff with oxygen bottles, carrying victims from ambulances ferrying them in to the makeshift hospital and doing whatever he could to help save lives.
He said the local search and rescue teams embraced him, asking him if he had any advice for them or anything they might have missed.
It is not the first time Mr De Meillon has been in a disaster zone.
As part of his experience with Reach Out Worldwide, he assisted in teams during the Nepal earthquake and a volcano in Guatemala. In Lombok he is not working with ROWW, which has not deployed there.
On Tuesday night Mr De Meillon was there when a woman, in a tent, gave birth.
"At the time of the delivery there was no electricity, there were just flashlights," he said.
He is currently assessing his next move.