Bali bombings: how our medical workers survived the aftermath
As seriously injured Australians were evacuated from Bali in the days following the October 12, 2002 Bali bombings, burn specialist and reconstructive surgeon Professor Fiona Wood assembled an elite medical team to help rescue bombing victims en route to Australia.
Bali’s largest medical centre, Sanglah Hospital, was completely overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with the influx of casualties in the days following the attacks. To ease the pressure, Australians and Kiwis have been sent to Australian hospitals.
Fiona and her team of medical experts were doing everything they could to prepare for what would be the biggest medical evacuation they had ever seen.
“These were significant injuries in significant numbers, so we knew early on that we had to implement the contingency plan.”
– Fiona Wood
In a strange twist of fate, Fiona and her team had just completed training for this type of disaster following the world’s worst oil rig explosion, known as the Piper Alpha Disaster.
“We developed the plan with all of our colleagues across Australia and New Zealand and we submitted this plan to the Australian Ministers of Health Advisory Council for endorsement in July,” Fiona said.
“They approved it in August, but what we didn’t appreciate was that we would do it for real in October.”
While the emotional trauma of the event would serve as a constant reminder in the survivors’ scars, Fiona and her team were forced to compartmentalize their own trauma.
“If I’m being brutally honest, I’ve found it harder and harder to talk about over the years, and I’ve come to understand that I carry a level of vicarious trauma not just from this event but from many of the faces I can see flashing before my eyes right now,”
– Fiona Wood
Network 10 journalist Ali Donaldson catches up with Fiona Wood 20 years after the Bali bombings, as she unpacks the harrowing days following the 2002 bombings and reveals how the ruthless attacks changed the trajectory of her life forever.
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