MeetTheTeam: Michael, paramedic

Michael Rettungsanitater Humanity 1
Arez Ghaderi / SOS Humanity

Michael works as an emergency paramedic and has provided medical and organisational support to our operational team to prepare our life-saving mission at sea. He is also active in one of our SOS Humanity volunteer groups.

In the summer of 2019, he was a rescue team member on the Ocean Viking. This August, he will be on board Humanity 1 as an emergency paramedic for its first mission. We spoke to him about his work. #MeetTheTeam

Michael, thank you for taking the time! You will be on board Humanity 1.

“What exactly will be your tasks on board?”

“As part of the medical team, I will support the provision of care for the rescued people according to the capabilities of the team and me. The range of tasks varies between an initial assessment and the subsequent care. Trainings with the entire crew and organisational tasks are other relevant parts of our work on board.”

“What are the medical conditions of the rescued people when they come aboard? And how is initial medical emergency assistance ensured on board of Humanity 1?”

“That certainly cannot be generalized. On the one hand, we might face acute emergencies. On the other hand, we are confronted with medical conditions related to the conditions of flight that influence the state of health of all those rescued. These include dehydration or wounds</strong caused by the aggressive mixture of salt water and petrol that often collects at the bottom of those boats. Seasickness is also common. In addition, the people we rescue often haven’t had access to adequate medical care in a long time. This is obviously a problem related to pregnancies, chronic illnesses and pre-existing injuries. Physical and psychological consequences of torture and/or sexual violence are anything but rare.

Even on a well-equipped ship like the Humanity 1, this broad spectrum of medical needs cannot be fully met. With our team, however, we do ensure emergency care by bringing together different disciplines. In concrete terms, this means that team members have medical, rescue/nursing, obstetric and psychological as well as protection backgrounds.”

“From a medical point of view, what would you like to tell policy makers?”

I have no words to describe how unacceptable I find the situation. The sad thing is that the answer to this question has not changed for years.

Of course, we need a European search and rescue programme, a transparent disembarkation mechanism, an end to the criminalisation of civil search and rescue and compliance with applicable maritime and international law. We must not get tired of emphasising this. It is also clear that the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, climate change and other crises require attention and imply a need for action.

But with regard to the situation in the Mediterranean and in the Libyan detention center, I just want to ask seriously: Why? Why still? I cannot find a reasonable answer to this. Therefore, for me, especially against the backdrop of the support for the so-called Libyan coast guard and the continued sealing of boarders, we can only assume that it’s done intentionally. Then the causes are simply populism, racism, and indifference and that makes me really angry.”

“What does humanity mean to you?”

“Humanity to me, means to reflect on your own actions, at least to some extent, and to ask yourself how a situation would feel if the roles were reversed. Subsequently, this means to behave respectfully towards one’s own environment: Towards people and animals and their livelihood.”

Photo credits: Arez Ghaderi / SOS Humanity

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