Lismore anaesthetist back from Aceh


BRIAN Pezzutti had barely put down his bag at Banda Aceh when the earth moved under the ruins of the town.

The last thing you want when working to help a people ravaged by an earthquake-created tsunami is another tremor; but Dr Pezzutti said the quakes were so common he ended up sleeping through them.

Sitting at the kitchen table of his Richmond Hill home a day after his return from Aceh, Dr Pezzutti yesterday dismissed the earthquakes, including one that measured 7.9 on the Richter scale ? little more than a point lower than the one that caused the tsunami.

"When it happened the first time we all ran outside ... but at Banda and Aceh there are earthquakes all the time," he said.

Dr Pezzutti, who formed part of the first foreign medical team to enter Aceh, generally had bigger problems.

The injuries he was treating combined the horrific and the bizarre.

One patient was run down by a riderless motorbike; thrown through the town by the giant waves.

Many more suffered pneumonia and infections so severe they had to have limbs amputated.

"The first day we walked into the ward you just couldn't believe the stench. By the second day it didn't smell at all. That's how you could tell if a wound was going bad ? by the smell."

Dr Pezzutti said he would return to Aceh with the Army Reserve (he is a brigadier) to continue helping the survivors of the tsunami.

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