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2 Op Padang Assist
AIR FORCE October 29, 2009
By LSIS Paul McCallum
The ADF is delivering the only source of
tetanus immunoglobulin to the people of Pa-
dang who suffered a devastating earthquake
on September 30.
Through the co-ordination of Indonesian
health authorities and the World Health
Organisation (WHO), AusAID arranged the
purchase of the emergency stockpiles from
the Australian Red Cross. The ADF has now
facilitated the delivery of more than 150 units
of the life-saving blood product to help the
local residents in the aftermath of the quake.
Joint Task Force 629 Senior Medical
Officer SQNLDR Collette Richards said teta-
nus was a major health concern for the people
of Padang as very few people were immu-
"Several diseases and illnesses become
widespread when a disaster like this occurs.
The immunoglobulin is not an immunisation;
these people do not have the time it takes to
build their own antibodies. They are fully
developed antibodies that will help control the
illness," SQNLDR Richards said.
"We were in a fortunate position to be able
to deliver the much-needed doses and we are
the only source of this product in Indonesia."
The immunoglobulin is sourced from
blood donations in Australia and is admin-
istered as a direct treatment for the illness.
Indonesia, like many countries, does not rou-
tinely immunise its population and tetanus is
a serious health threat when people are dis-
placed and living in an exposed environment.
"Without the continuing donation of blood
by the Australian public, these products would
not be available to the victims of the earth-
quake in Padang," SQNLDR Richards said.
Tetanus is an illness that causes the mus-
cles in the body to seize. It can be fatal if
not treated, as the respiratory and pulmonary
muscle systems fail.
The director of the WHO in Padang, Dr
Vijay Nath Kyaw Win, said the supply of
immunoglobulin from Australia was critical
to controlling the effects of tetanus.
"This is a godsend; thank you to the peo-
ple of Australia for providing this life-saving
treatment," he said.
By Andrew Stackpool
WGCDR Bill Kourelakos, who
is the Deputy Commander of the
JTF629 Air Component, has praised
the tireless efforts of all personnel in-
volved in the task force's air support
"The air mobility effort in sup-
port of the Indonesian Government's
relief operation in the aftermath of the
September 30 earthquake in Padang,
Sumatra, was testimony to the dedica-
tion of Air Component (JTF629) per-
sonnel," WGCDR Kourelakos said.
"Senior Operations Officer
SQNLDR Nick Hogan planned and
coordinated all Indonesian, RAAF and
"At Padang, air load teams worked
endlessly to turn aircraft around in
minimum time so that each crew could
achieve two missions per day."
The C-130 crews flew maximum
crew days to ensure that aircraft were
used to their full potential by taking
only the minimum amount of crew rest
The first week had brought out the
best in personnel.
The air load team led by SGT
Mark Robertson, the SNCO in charge
of the 1 Airfield Operations Support
Squadron's (1AOSS) Air Lift Team A
Air Force leads fight
at RAAF Base Amberley, had managed
all air movements into Padang.
"They lived in cramped conditions
and serviced aircraft from all around
the world, all of which relied on the
team to offload their cargo."
By the end of the second week,
the team had managed 86 aircraft
sorties, which had delivered into the
earthquake-impacted area more than
450,000kg of cargo and 700 passen-
The team, led by FLTLT
Andrew Miller from the 1AOSS Air
Movements Section at RAAF Base
Richmond, weathered a massive down-
pour to build pallets and load an air-
craft; thereby ensuring that the first
disaster relief mission got away on the
first day of the operation.
During the initial stages of the
operation, the TNI-AU personnel were
only able to offer the Australians a
small room to work from.
"We crammed our operations,
logistics, administration and commu-
nications elements into this one room,"
WGCDR Kourelakos said.
"Eventually, we expanded into a
carport area where we set up logistics,
administration, a passenger lounge,
welfare area, crew rest area, crew
rations storage, brew point, laundry
drop off and medical section."
Other personnel were stretching
their initiative and diplomatic skills.
"We had Combat Support Group
administration and logistics staff who
had to substitute as air operations staff
until Air Lift Group personnel arrived,"
WGCDR Kourelakos said.
"And operations staff were work-
ing very closely with TNI-AU offic-
ers to ensure we had smooth relations
and airfield services 24 hours a day
throughout the entire operation."
WGCDR Kourelakos paid tribute
to the TNI-AU whom he described as
very gracious hosts and thankful part-
ners in the relief operation.
"Several star-ranked TNI officers
have dropped into the air operations
centre to observe the operation and
each of them expressed their gratitude
for Australia's commitment to their
relief operation," he said.
LIFESAVERS: JTF 629 Senior Medical Officer SQNLDR Collette Richards hands over a box of
150 units of tetanus immunoglobulin from the Australian Red Cross to a local representative from
the World Health Organization in Padang. Tetanus has been identified as a potentially serious
concern in Padang as very few of the city's inhabitants are immunised. Photo: LSIS Paul McCallum
FRIENDS IN NEED: Above, the Air Force air load team and local
Indonesian soldiers take time for a quick photo at Padang airport.
ON A ROLL: Below, from left, 1AOSS's ACW Christine Smith, ACW
Renata Cooper, CPL Matthew Jones and AC Paul Scandura roll up tie-
down straps after unloading another C-130.
Photos: CPL Guy Young
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