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More Singaporean medical personnel, volunteers leave for quake-hit Yogyakarta
30 May 2006

Singapore City, Singapore: Forty medical personnel and volunteers from Alexandra Hospital, the Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief left for Yogyakarta on Tuesday morning to help quake victims there.

The 18-member team from Alexandra Hospital, which includes orthopaedic surgeons and surgeons from the operating theatres, will be stationed at the Klaten and Sarjito hospitals in Yogyakarta to help with relief operations.

They will bring with them antibiotics, painkillers and other medical equipment.

Dr Chin Thiam Wai, Team Leader, Alexandra Hospital, said: "With earthquake injuries, the more serious ones like the head and chest injuries, I hope they would have been dealt with first because those are the ones with high fatalities. Next comes open fractures, big cuts, wounds, bruises which we'll probably be handling this at this point in time."

The Singapore Red Cross team, comprising 3 doctors, 7 nurses and a logistician, is its second to be despatched.

They will be working from a makeshift casualty station in a field camp in Bantul alongside their Indonesian counterparts, the Palang Merah Indonesia.

They expect different challenges from those in the tsunami aftermath.

Serene Chia, Team Leader, Singapore Red Cross, said: "This is a situation where everyone is desperate and looking for help and we hope we can render the help that is available. Now we are dealing with the people who are buried rather than people surrounded by water and wet. Now the people have a fear in buildings and places that are enclosed. In tsunami, they are afraid of water."

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who saw them off at the airport, lauded the relief mission as a worthwhile cause.

He said: "From the TV images, we know that the situation there is quite grave and we do not know how much is needed so one of the mission is also to size up the situation. I think if they need more help, there are still many more volunteers wanting to be despatched over the next few days. But whatever it is, we alone can't do it, there are many other countries there as well, but we do our part. If we can save tens, hundreds of lives, it is still lives saved and worth doing so."

There's already a team of doctors and nurses from the Singapore Red Cross and the medical community at the quake site in Yogyakarta.

The teams that are flying off on Tuesday are expected to beef up the relief mission there over the next 10 to 15 days.

The 11-member Mercy Relief team, comprise medical personnel from the National University Hospital and the Singapore General Hospital as well as its volunteers.

The quake in Indonesia has claimed more than 5,000 lives with thousands more injured.