OCEAN Reef paramedic Stewart Buchan was at the forefront of relief efforts on the Indonesian island of Lombok after it was struck by multiple devastating earthquakes in August.
The St John Ambulance paramedic developed an affinity with the island after travelling to Lombok over the past three years, and enjoying a a fly-in fly-out lifestyle for the past 10 months, travelling between the island and his industrial paramedic role in northern WA.
He said making the decision to help the people of Lombok was almost instantaneous.
“What motivated me was my sense of community,” he said.
“I feel responsible for these people; they have become like family to me.
“I have had many challenges in Lombok over the years and have had a tremendous amount of support from them.”
Mr Buchan received donations of tents from Anaconda Cannington and some St John colleagues and was able to get a waiver on excess luggage fees from Qantas/Jetstar.
Stewart joined others, including friend by Mohni Haliman of Lombok Dive, in the aid effort and over the 10 days helped provide food, shelter, distribute blankets and provide medical support.
“Once I was on the ground I provided large tarpaulins and ground cover, generators for power, medical supplies, food, nappies and general medical support,” he said.
“These earthquakes have really devastated massive regions.
“In most villages, far from the epicentre, there is a 90 per cent loss of buildings on the main land.”
The quakes had left as many as 430,000 people homeless and Mr Buchan’s own safety was under threat when he experienced a 7.0 tremor days after the first big shock.
“It takes a lot for me to be frightened,” he said.
“The aftershocks were uncomfortable and felt strange but the 7.0 earthquake was violent.”
Stewart said he would return to Lombok regularly to continue the work in between his paramedic shifts.