August to September marks the peak of the dry season in Indonesia. This period is also when our Rapid Response Firefighting Teams are on high alert, monitoring our concession areas to prevent fires. However, the firefighting teams are not the only ones present at the scene throughout this crucial time.
Meet our paramedics, Irma, Putri, and Dwi, the medical personnel that stood ground with the team, and a day in their lives is equally challenging. They have been helping us to ensure that the firefighters' health condition is always in top form for them to continue their battle.
The trio, just like any other doctor, has to fulfill their daily rounds. The difference is that instead of a hospital ward, they do this from post-to-post, conducting health check-ups and preparing medications for the injured. When we say 'post-to-post,' it's common to visualize a red sand road leading to a tall tower. But that's not the case here. Some of the post areas in South Sumatra are surrounded by dense vegetation and swamp that make traveling difficult and time-consuming. Often, even when they leave their station in the morning, they would only reach the outpost at noon. Irma, Putri, and Dwi see about ten patients every day and are only able to rest late at night, usually after 10 PM.
Despite the challenges, their spirits are never damped to help the firefighters overcome health conditions when they are on duty. Firefighters are susceptible to Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI), and they could potentially get dizzy from inhaling smoke from the fires. They are also prone to skin irritations due to water scarcity that prevents them from showering for days. For these reasons, medical attention from professionals is necessary.
"We carry around portable oxygen supplies, medications, and salves for burns and itchiness," said Irma, who usually works as a doctor at Eka Hospital Pekanbaru. Every year the hospital sends some of its paramedics to assist the firefighting team with medical support. Irma, Putri, and Dwi understand that protecting the forest is not an easy feat, so they felt compelled to volunteer and offer their help.
Compared to working indoors at their hospital, volunteering as part of the medical team is a lot more challenging as they have to face more significant danger. Sometimes, even their lives are on the line.
Putri, a nurse who had initially served at another district, told her story. "There was this one time where I had to take a small canoe to help the firefighting squad in a remote location. On our way to the outpost, one of the firefighters received a distress signal of a fire nearby, so he left me behind with only a machete to defend myself from wild beasts," she said.
Yet, such experiences like this have not discouraged Putri and the other two from assisting our Rapid Response Team. The trio admitted that there would be more challenges they'd need to experience while doing this job, but they are happy and content with their roles as medical support for the firefighting team.
“There are many life lessons we can learn from working in the field. Now, we actually enjoy our time here compared to our hospital duty,” they said.
Thank you, Irma, Putri, and Dwi, for helping our firefighters to continue protecting the forests.
Let's also do our best to support them by learning more about environmental conservation issues here at APP Stories and through our social media accounts! Let's protect and preserve the Earth together!