New Zealand paramedic describes ‘shocking’ scene after volcano eruption

The paramedic told reporters they found no survivors on the island; American tourists are among the missing


By EMS1 Staff

NEW ZEALAND — A New Zealand paramedic who assisted in rescue efforts after a volcano erupted Sunday said the response was a “shocking experience.”

Paramedic Russell Clark told a New Zealand television station that “everything was just blanketed in ash” as he flew with an Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew to Whakatane on the nation’s North Island, according to Reuters.

A plume of steam is seen above White Island early morning off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. A volcanic island in New Zealand erupted Monday Dec. 9 in a tower of ash and steam while dozens of tourists were exploring the moon-like surface, killing at least five people and leaving many more missing.
A plume of steam is seen above White Island early morning off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. A volcanic island in New Zealand erupted Monday Dec. 9 in a tower of ash and steam while dozens of tourists were exploring the moon-like surface, killing at least five people and leaving many more missing. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

“We were getting status updates, so we knew there were high-acuity patients, very, very critical patients,” Clark said.

Five people died after the eruption, and 30 were evacuated from the island, many of whom sustained burn injuries. Eight people remain missing and are assumed dead, including tourists from the United States, Australia, Britain, China and Malaysia.

Clark said he saw a damaged helicopter upon arriving at the scene.

“We didn’t find any survivors on the island,” he said. “It would've been quite traumatic for them.”

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