Refugee treated for hypothermia saves his life

Mar 13, 2016

Refugee treated for hypothermia saves his life
Rescued teen suffering from hypothermia. Photo: Patricia Velencsics

Refugee treated for hypothermia saves his life

Firefighter Miguel Fernandez, 42, decided to head from his home in the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region, Santiago de Compostela, to work at the controversial Idomeni camp on the Greek Macedonian border where thousands of refugees are now stranded.

Spanish firefighter and rescue volunteer Miguel Fernandez.  Photo: Patricia Velecsis
There he was working with together with Austrian volunteer Patricia Velencsics, who travelled to the region from her home in Austria and the pair had been putting up tents for new arrivals.
 He said: "We found it was best to do this at night, because you can really see then if somebody needs a tent. During the day, people are walking around and it's difficult to communicate with them to ask if they need accommodation. By night time, you can see those who really don't have anywhere because they are trying to shelter out in the open.
 "It was on one of these tent erecting operations that we spotted a lad who was probably around 17 or 18 sleeping outside. He had obviously been trying to make a fire to keep warm and instead of waking him, we decided to put up the tent and then with him inside.
We put it up alongside him, but then when we tried to wake him, we noticed that he was not reacting. When we checked his pulse, it was really weak and we realised it was a problem.
 "Patricia and I worked together to get into the emergency tent straightaway, and doctors were able to save his life. They said he was suffering from extreme hypothermia."
 He said that in the hectic struggle to help further immigrants, they had lost contact with the teenager once he was hospitalised but added: "I would really like to try and find out where he is now, if he still here I'd like to get a photo of us together but if he has managed to cross the border, then I wish him all the luck in his new home.
"I want people to know that the risk to the lives of these immigrants is very real, and to try and encourage more people to get involved to help. It does make a difference."

Camera returned by young refugee.  Photo: Patricia Velecsis
He said that there had been many moments which he would never forget from his time dealing with the migrants, including one youngster who noticed that he had dropped an expensive camera.
He said: "It had fallen out of my bag, and I had not even noticed when the lad touching on the shoulder, and pointed out my camera. I hadn't even realised it was missing when this angel gave it back to me. He didn't want anything as a reward, but he deserved it, so I bought him a bag full of food.
 "It is beautiful to find people that conserve their values even in the worst moments."

Patricia Velecsis.  Photo: Facebook
On her Facebook page Patricia said she had travelled to various borders support the refugees on their strenuous journey.
She said: “Never did I expect finding a family with a small baby at three in the morning sitting homeless around a fire, the baby not even wearing socks, or a women who shows us her tent that is soaked with rainwater, or to find a young man lying in the field unconscious from Hypothermia.”
She added that it was a tragedy that the Europe of open borders from six months ago had now changed so quickly, adding: If these people cannot turn to Europe for support, where else shall they turn? If Europe disrespects Human Rights completely, where shall they go to claim the Right for Asylum?
“It leaves me with a sense of defeat. we have lost our fight for open borders. Injustice, Ignorance and inhumanity have won. I’ve lost my Europe, that I always believed in. How will I ever be able to explain all this to my daughter and all the other kids, who one day will ask us: why did you let it happen?” 
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