Making a difference in Nepal

Pitt firefighter and nurse goes on humanitarian mission with GlobalMedic to help in earthquake recovery.

In Nepal

Pitt Meadows volunteer firefighter Al McGee has seen more than his fair share of tragedy in 11 years on the job.

As a first responder to dealing with medical issues and car accidents, McGee knows the importance time plays in saving a life.

As an emergency room and pediatric registered nurse with Fraser Health, dealing with adversity is once again a paramount part of the job.

Now, he will get a chance to put his skills to work in Nepal, where he will spend a month helping rebuild a nation that was devastated following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck 80 kilometres east of the town of Pokhara on April 25.

An estimated 7,500 people died after the initial quake and the aftershocks, including a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck near the town of Namche Bazar and Mount Everest, by the Nepal-China border.

“I don’t think anyone can be truly ready to be witness to something like this,” said McGee. “But experience helps, working with the fire department and health care.”

McGee is working as a volunteer with GlobalMedic, a non-governmental organization that specializes in disaster relief efforts with initial rescue teams, emergency medical units and water purification kits.

As well as helping in Nepal, GlobalMedic has teams in areas like Northern Iraq, the Ukraine, and the Congo.

“This is my first opportunity to deploy internationally,” said McGee, who has worked as a volunteer coordinator with GlobalMedic for the past three years.

“In my time in Nepal, I’m going to work on water purification and shelter relief as monsoon season is about to start. It’s critical to help get these systems in place as so many people are still struggling.”

The United Nations Refugee estimates almost three million people are without a home. Entire villages lay in ruins. Roads are impassable. Getting aid to those in need has been difficult at the best of times.

“It’s going to be many, many years before things there are anywhere near being back to normal. The challenge is accessibility in the rural areas. So many roads are cut off,” said McGee.

It’s easy to forget the scope of the tragedy in Nepal, he added, because of today’s 24-hour news cycle. But he’s hoping his work with GlobalMedic can play a part in the country’s long road to recovery.

Work commitments in the past haven’t allowed him the chance to volunteer overseas, but he’s thankful for the support from Fraser Health and the Pitt Meadows fire department to allow him to contribute.

“Taking a month away from work is really challenging, but I’m excited to be able to go and make some sort of a difference and represent the local community here,” he said.

As well, the volunteer firefighter said the disaster half a world away should serve as a reminder to local residents to be prepared in case of a natural disaster. He said everyone should have at least enough food, water and other supplies to last 72 hours.

McGee said he’s also hoping his experience in Nepal will allow him to respond to other needs with GlobalMedic, which also does fire response training in developing countries.

Help out

Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate can go to www.globalmedic.ca.

Just Posted

Registration open for c’usqunela elementary in Maple Ridge

Applications are being accepted until midnight on Jan. 31 for students from Kindergarten to Grade 7

Bullying and relationships explored in coming of age drama at the ACT

GEMS kicks off the new year with romantic drama Porcupine Lake

Maple Ridge player makes Team Canada for softball

Larissa Franklin again named to national squad

Keep focus on helping Canadians at home, Trudeau tells MPs at start of meeting

Trudeau said the Liberals will offer Canadians hope amid issue like climate change and global tensions

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Crash closes Coquihalla southbound lane south of Merritt

Accident occurred approximately 26 kilometres south of Merritt

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

Most Read