Steve Williams, Volunteering for International Development from Australia

Uploaded by AusAIDvideo on 22.10.2009

My name's Steve Williams. I'm a retired ambulance paramedic.
I've come over to Samoa to work with the fire service.
I'm over here on an AusAID-sponsored program.
I'm providing paramedic skills to the fire service,
who are tasked with providing the emergency ambulance in Samoa.
And the day of the tsunami, our guys who were sent out initially
to provide the warning to the people of Samoa,
once the tsunami hit, they were then able to provide
immediate first aid and treatment to the victims.
Which was very fortunate.
I've only been here three months.
We've only been able to go so far with our training.
Everything's on hold at the moment. But they've done very well.
The work the guys have done has been...
..the staff at the fire service has done over the last week
has been fantastic.
And it's been good for them as well,
in the fact that they've been able to sort of help the people of Samoa
and their families and their communities,
because Samoans are very family- and community-orientated.
Everyone has been affected by the tsunami.
They've all got extended families which have been, uh..., des...
..lost, literally.
I'd also like to mention the AusAID volunteers
who have worked in many different fields.
Basically, from data entry,
a lot of the, um...AusAIDs,
whether they're VIDA or the AYADs,
have been volunteering.
They've also been out with the, uh...
..down the south coast,
doing searching, doing cleaning, looking for people.
I've been here three months, and, do you realise,
we've had two earthquakes, a tsunami,
a major structural fire and, uh...four ships on the reef.
The training the fire service personnel have received
is initially going to...
..has initially been in advanced first aid.
Which is going to be ongoing.
At the moment,
it's typical to a first aid class you'd get in Australia,
but we're also including, um... defibrillation
and a lot of mechanical equipment as well.
In a small country like this,
where disasters can happen very quickly and very easily,
this is important,
to have a multitude of people covering the same position.
So, they're gonna be multi-taskers -
firefighters and as emergency paramedics.
With what's happened in Samoa since the tsunami,
I have actually thought a bit about my position here,
and the country,
and none of it's changed.
It's a beautiful country. It's got beautiful people here.
They've always got a smile on their face.
At the moment, the gleam's gone out of their eye,
but it will come back.
There is no way I'm gonna leave here until I've finished my time.