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County resident joins emergency responders in earthquake stricken Indonesia

Rick Campbell working Global Medic at a local school, preparing and packaging dry meals to be sent up to earthquake and tsunami stricken communities in Indonesia.

Rick Campbell, a retired firefighter from Prince Edward County, has just returned from Yogyakarta, Indonesia where he was volunteering with the humanitarian organization Global Medic to package food kits for families in Palu affected by a recent earthquake and tsunami.

Demonstrating how the water cleaning units work.

On Sept. 28, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck Central Sulawesi, with aftershocks continuing for days. The quake triggered a tsunami affecting more than 2.4 million people in 934 villages. More than 2,000 people died, more than 10,000 were injured and 74,000 have been evacuated and are being housed in evacuation camps.

Campbell was with the second Canadian Rapid Response team with Global Medic, based in Toronto.

“The first team landed quite soon after the quake, bringing units to clean water for drinking,” he said. “When we arrived, we brought more water cleaning units. We trained five more groups on how to set up and use them and this equipment was then taken to Palu.”

In 2016 he wrote from Serbia, helping refugee families crossing the boarder to seek relief from violence and conflict, and has also volunteered in India, Kashmir, Nepal, the Philippines and to Pakistan. He has been a volunteer for about a decade.

Work was done in rows – putting product into bags, weighing, sealing and finally boxing for shipment.

“This time I am with a team of three emergency responders, one of whom lives here, buying local product, plus rice and dried salted fish plus packages of hot sauce,” he said. “We’re working with a local school, preparing and packaging dry meals to be sent up to Palu.

Rice and fish are the basic foods that are eaten in Palu.

“The school where we packaged the rice, anchovy and hot sauce is the Yogyakarta Independent School. The younger students – eight to nine years old – peeled the labels and put them on the bags. The older students, teachers and volunteers assisted with the rest.

Over three days, and after school they completed 5,230 meals in bags.

“Each bag could feed a family of five or six. We had sought advice from local restaurants and decided on the menu. It was cooked at a local restaurant as well and taste-tested then checked for portion sizes. Hot sauce and spices and peppers are a part of the diet, as well as rice and fish. All products and printing were purchased locally.”

Campbell, centre, and others meeting with customs to get details in order.

Global Medic also sent almost a thousand Family Emergency Kits to Palu, packed by volunteers in Toronto. They typically contain toothpaste and brushes, bar soaps, diapers and sanitary products. Depending on the country, said Campbell, they may also contain water filtration kits, tarps and rope for shelters.

“You may recall that Global Medic had also been in the County and surrounding areas earlier this year, distributing these Family Kits to local food banks. As well as other Canadian communities hard hit due to various situational circumstances.”

After two weeks there was one day off to tour some of the areas around Yogyakarta. Then it was back to work for another week.

“It’s a beautiful country filled with temples built as far back as 780AD. Many had been buried under tons of volcanic ash,” Campbell said, noting “It can not be considered to be a vacation as many days can be 18 hours long, with no days off, until it is time to head home.”

However, for Campbell, there is a great deal of satisfaction knowing he is helping and that has kept him volunteering for almost 11 years.

“I first read about them in a magazine called Emergency, looking for volunteers. At the time, I was working part-time for an ambulance service, as well as volunteer/part time with the Hallowell Fire Department,” said Campbell, who is also retired from the OPP auxiliary. “I admired what they did, and was impressed that they would respond so quickly world-wide.”

He recalls Global Medic initially started with volunteers from various emergency services, but “these last many years, every person, from every walk of life, has been encouraged to join.

“I keep volunteering because it is something that I can do to assist, and you tend to see results right away.
I respect the founder of Global Medic / Global Fire and his vision. And there are a lot of people that need help.
Global Medic usually responds to third world countries, as they tend not to have the resources. They must be invited in, and since we don’t have weapons, we usually arrive long before our DART (military Disaster Assistance Response) Team, if they get deployed.”

More on Global Medic program at globalmedic.ca

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