The International Disaster Response Network
Check out this amazing story of an IDRN member helping out at the West Gate Mall incident in Nairobi.
It seemed to be a normal Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya. After participating in an outreach at Kenyatta National Hospital, I exited the hospital with other members of our team. At the hospital’s exit gate, we were shocked to hear that Westgate Mall was under siege by Al-Shabaab terrorists and many had been killed. I felt totally dismayed and also confused.
I entered a public vehicle, but at around 8 p.m. realized that I had gone to the wrong place. I managed to get another vehicle and reach home, but spent most of the night awake with tears flowing from my eyes. During that traumatic time, I remembered that I had been trained in disaster response. I also felt that I needed to be truly patriotic and put this training to use in the Westgate Mall crisis.
This service was to unfold in several phases. I started on Sunday morning by donating blood to support the hospital’s treatment of many emergency cases. Then I proceeded to Westgate Mall see how I could assist. By this time, the area was restricted by security forces. However, when I showed by IDRN badge, I was allowed entry.
My role in the rescue operation was to direct the released hostages, helping some to enter the ambulances and telling others where to find the assistance they needed. I also accompanied some of the bereaved families to City Mortuary to help them identify the bodies of their loved ones. This was a day-and-night task that went on for several days.
After the situation at the Mall was under control and all hostages released, I began volunteering at MP Shah Hospital as a trauma counselor for the victims.
Based on this service, members of the Fire Brigade requested that I apply for an attachment with their organization. I am so grateful for having been trained in Disaster Response so that I could be of good use during this very desperate time for the nation of Kenya.