A NURSE has been involved in two medical evacuations of injured Libyans by boat to Tunisia.
Alison Criado-Perez, who lives in Clipsham, is a nurse with international aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières.
On Friday, she was the medical team leader on a boat which travelled to the port of Misrata in Libya to evacuate 99 people to Zarzis in Tunisia.
Of them, 64 were patients who had suffered injuries in the conflict and 10 were in a critical condition, with many requiring blood transfusions.
Alison was one of six nurses on board, along with seven doctors and one psychologist. Only three were from Médecins Sans Frontières, while the other crew members were 11 Tunisian volunteers. There were also two translators on board.
Alison, who has three children living in Shangai, Madrid and Oxford, was also involved in the first medical evacuation of 71 people by the charity, which took place on April 4.
Speaking from Tunisia, Alison said: “There were more severely injured patients on the second evacuation.
“There were a lot of chest injuries, three people were on ventilators and there was a lot of fractured bones.
“There was also a little two-year-old child who had severe burns and a woman who had injuries to her legs and had seen her house fall down.”
The crossing took 12 hours through the night and after the boat docked in Zarzis on Saturday, the patients were transferred to one of the seven hospitals in Sfax, Tunisia.
Alison said at times she had to crawl between mattresses on the boat floor because the sea was so rough.
She added: “We couldn’t risk falling on injured patients. It was exhausting work but you just put your head down and get on with the job in hand.”
Libya is embroiled in an uprising by rebels based in Benghazi fighting to end Col Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.
Rebels in Misrata have faced weeks of heavy bombardment.
Alison, who qualified as a nurse in 1972 and has worked and lived all over the world, has worked for the charity since 2000.
She said the medical evacuations were by far her most difficult missions so far.
She added: “This mission required the most psychological strength and logistically, being on the boat was also very challenging.”
While in Misrata, some of the team were able to assess medical facilities in the city where fighting has meant that hospitals are overwhelmed with injured people.
The team also saw a camp near the port, where thousands of migrants have taken refuge, but Alison stayed on board the boat preparing for the injured people.
Since the second evacuation, Alison has been visiting the patients in hospital and clearing the boat of the medical equipment.
She is currently waiting to find out if the charity will be carrying out a third evacuation, which she hopes to be involved in, and doesn’t know when she’ll return home.
Since February, the charity has sent out 44 tons of medical equipment and medicine. Teams from the charity are also helping at the Tunisian border with Libya to provide psychological support to people fleeing the conflict.