head emergency service
Frank Van Trimpont is a doctor specialising in anaesthetics and emergency treatment. He manages the emergency service at the Hornu hospital in Hainaut. In parallel to his work at the hospital, he occupies the position of medical officer at Mons fire service and teaches classes on the management of emergency situations at ULB. Therefore, his day-to-day activities are shared between Hornu Emergency service, the SMUR and the classes in Disaster Medicine which he teaches at ULB.
Why did you decide to become a B-FAST volunteer? What are your motivations?
"I became a B-FAST volunteer because I wanted to help victims of large-scale disasters and offer some support to these populations in difficulty. In reality, it is an extension of my everyday work, but under circumstances where the resources on-site are completely inadequate despite the fact that the people there are in the greatest need."
Frank has participated in the development of the B-FAST project since 2000, in particular by following a course in rescue-rubble clearing and GRIMP (interventions in hazardous environments) in France. Initially, it was mainly in order to integrate USAR type missions. He participated in the first major NATO exercise which Belgium was invited to in Iceland in 2002. Apart from training courses in France and the exercise in Iceland, he has also participated in missions overseas for B-FAST: a mission in Algeria following the 2003 earthquake and another in Sumatra following the 2004 tsunami.
What is your exact function in the B-FAST team? What does it involve?
"It depends on the type of mission. I may act as anaesthetist, as was the case in the Philippines, when I worked at a rural hospital. I may also work as an emergency team member in the same structure. And, I may also offer front-line treatment in the case of USAR type missions, namely searching for victims buried in rubble following earthquakes."
What events at B-FAST have marked you the most?
"There have been many, but the things that have marked me the most have mainly involved children. To take an example of a happy one in very sad circumstances, I would mention the children in Sumatra who thanked us for being there by offering us a snake in a bottle... an original gift! Apart from that, the smiles of children who have been treated or the last birth in the Philippines were very powerful moments."
What advice would you give someone wishing to become a volunteer at B-FAST?
"Don't hesitate to ask questions and submit your application. The missions are undoubtedly very difficult, but they are very enriching on a human level through the people you meet and also the cohesive team working on the ground."