Main Navigation

'I don't think any of our team slept that night'

"As soon as the earthquake started, I knew what was happening," says Sammeer Bajracharya. "I made sure my family was okay, then as soon as the shaking stopped I went out to direct people to safer places."

The 22-year-old engineering graduate was part of the Red Cross team sent out in the early hours after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake collapsed buildings across Nepal. His role was to help the authorities with search and rescue, and provide first aid to the thousands injured.

With roads blocked to trucks and earthmovers, rescuers resorted to digging people out with their bare hands. "There was a rescuer who had cut his finger really badly so we gave him treatment," Sammeer explains.

"In the same area there was a woman who was trapped in the rubble. One of her legs had been crushed by the falling building. We worked with the rescue teams and did our best to give her first aid, but unfortunately we couldn't save her."

Sammeer worked well into the night, helping people in his own neighbourhood.

"We formed a team to make sure everyone sleeping outside was safe. We walked around the area where people were staying to make sure it was secure and provide reassurance to those who were scared and helped keep people calm.

"There were so many aftershocks. I don't think any of our team slept that night."

Nepal Red Cross now has more than 1,500 volunteers working on the relief effort. Most of them have completed training in first aid and search and rescue, in anticipation of a major earthquake in the capital.

Now, their skills and commitment are being put to the test. And, like Sammeer, they are rising to the challenge.

"I have become more and more involved and I love helping people," he says. "I'll keep volunteering for as long as I can, providing first aid and support to people who cannot go back to their homes."

Photo: IFRC/Carl Whetham