Northern Ireland medic treating mums-to-be pulled from Turkey earthquake rubble

Obstetrician Paul Holmes from Ballynahinch travelled to Turkey as part of the UK-Emergency Medical Team deployed to Turkey through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

A medic from Northern Ireland has spoke of his work helping mums-to-be rescued from the rubble as part of the UK Government’s response to the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria.

Obstetrician Paul Holmes from Ballynahinch travelled to the area on 11 February as part of the UK-Emergency Medical Team deployed to Turkey through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Paul has been working alongside Turkish medics at a field hospital in Türkoğlu, southern Turkey.

The 56-year-old who left Northern Ireland aged 18 to study medicine at University of Edinburgh returns from his three-week deployment on Saturday 4 March where he has been working out of the grounds of a ruined hospital which has treated over 6,000 patients.

More than 50,000 people have been killed in southern Turkey and northern Syria and thousands more remain missing.

During his time in Turkey Paul said: “I’ve come across mums who have literally been pulled out of the rubble.

The father of four has faced a number of 'very noticable aftershocks' while carrying out his work.

He said: “When I was in Nepal in 2015, there were one or two little aftershocks where you thought ‘Is that an aftershock or not?

"This time you are left in absolutely no doubt.

“There’s been two fairly major ones since we got here. The first one briefly set the hospital building on fire, which was slightly nerve-wracking.

"I saw smoke after it triggered an electrical fire but thankfully it was brought under control very quickly and there wasn’t huge damage.

“We had to move our overnight camping tents because they were deemed a bit close to the hospital".

Paul outside the makeshift hospital in Souther Turkey were he was treating patients.

Paul was grateful that during his time there he was able to phone wife and kids to let them know he was ok and he praised those he was working alongside.

He said: “The Turkish medics I’m working with are wonderful people. I’ve also got very good colleagues at home who have arranged for some knitted woolen baby hats to be sent out from Larbert and helping fill in for me.

“Kids are coming in with lots of respiratory infections and illnesses, partly from living in tents in temperatures of minus 7 or 8 at night.

"I know the tents we are camping in have had ice on the inside some mornings never mind on the outside.

Paul with some of those he treated at the makeshift hospital in southern Turkey

Paul is just one of a number of people from the UK who has been working on the ground in Turkey and Syria.

The UK Government announced a further £25million major UK package of support on February 15, with the UK responding to needs on the ground in Turkey and in Syria in line with requests from the Turkish authorities, the UN and aid agencies.

UK Minister for Development Andrew Mitchell said: “The government is proud that brave firefighters and medics from Northern Ireland have been at the very heart of our efforts to help the Turkish people in their hour of need.

“Both the UK-ISAR and UK-EMT pool world-leading expertise from across Britain to make a real difference in reacting to humanitarian disasters around the globe.

“The UK Government’s priority now is to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches the thousands of families left homeless by the earthquake. It will be so vital in ensuring those affected can begin to rebuild their lives.”

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