Medics to provide life-saving support to refugee camps

20 January 2017

Four paramedics are travelling to freezing, overcrowded refugee camps in Greece to provide first aid training to charity workers. 

Simon Woodmore, James Porter, Kate Shaw and Mista Murad are all members of London Ambulance Service’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART). 

The team, based in Isleworth, is heading to Thessaloniki on Sunday (22 January) with Hands International, a charity which supplies humanitarian aid to refugees.

Rev Simon Woodmore, 48, said: “There is something about being able to help desperate people. As paramedics, we want to help others.

“This isn’t political, it is just about humanity.

According to Hands International, 16,000 refugees are living in abandoned warehouses and factories – at least a third of those are children. The charity has found that hygiene is poor and people are surviving on rations of one sandwich and a bottle of water a day. Medical care is limited. 

Simon and his colleagues will provide training for charity workers including a range of life-saving skills as well as safeguarding awareness and major incident training. 

Simon, of Hemel Hempstead, went to Calais last year to help run a vaccination clinic for refugees.

He said: “Visiting the camps is humbling; you get an idea of the human side. People are living in shelters and yet they will invite you into their tent to share their meal.

“There are about 25 camps in Thessaloniki so the scale of it will be different to Calais and the weather is appalling. It has been snowing and it is very, very cold.

“Part of the mission will be fact-finding: we will see what is needed; what is going on. We will see how we can help in the future.”

The four paramedics are using annual leave to volunteer in the camps.

Martin McTigue, London Ambulance Service Governance Manager and a trustee for Hands International, said: “We are proud of our paramedics volunteering to go into the camps.

“They will be helping people who have suffered so much hardship and who face so much uncertainty – their help can make a difference.”

Notes to Editor