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Tribute to ASMS members in the wake of the Whakaari tragedy

A tribute to ASMS members in the wake of the Whakaari tragedy

This week’s tragedy on Whakaari/White Island has grabbed headlines across the country and around the world. ASMS wishes to express its deep sympathy for the victims and their families.

The disaster has required one of the largest medical responses in New Zealand’s history. ASMS members have been front and centre.

I want to firstly acknowledge the amazing work of our members at Whakatane Hospital where 31 critically injured patients arrived and were triaged as the scale of the disaster unfolded.

Our Whakatane Branch President Dr Richard Forster said the response was extraordinary.

He said the acute unit environment was quiet and calm as medical teams went about stabilising patients and readying them for transfer.

Whakatane Hospital medical leader and ASMS member Dr Heike Hundemer said staff are still processing what has happened and have been deeply affected. She said they are in varying stages of coping, and the impact will be felt for a long time.

I also want to pay tribute to the work of ASMS members at Tauranga and the other hospitals and burns units around the country where patients were medivacced, and where in some cases, intensive treatment continues. We know resources and staffing were pushed to capacity and everyone is full of admiration for the expert care given, particularly in the face of the unimaginable and complex injuries sustained by the disaster victims.

Support from across the Tasman

I want to share a message of support which ASMS received from your fellow specialists across the Tasman.

The President of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation Geoff Dobb said:

“We have been following the events unfolding in NZ from this side of the Tasman with great sadness, but also admiration for the emergency response teams and the medical staff caring for the survivors. The workload for your plastic surgeons, intensivists, anaesthetists and others who support them must be extreme, especially given the health services were already working at and beyond capacity.

I can still remember the impact of the Bali bombings on our capacity to treat the victims of major burns – it is work that goes on long past the headlines and media interest.

On behalf of ASMOF may I offer our support for your members who are directly or indirectly involved in the medical response to the care of victims of the volcanic explosion.

Our thoughts are with you”.

Like Professor Dobb our thoughts are with you. If any member needs support in the wake of the Whakaari tragedy, please contact ASMS national office asms@asms.org.nz or 04-4991271 to speak to an industrial officer.


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