Young rescuer follows heart in act of humanitarianism

Ngoc Mai
Chia sẻ

(VOVWORLD) - Pham Minh Huong, a 35-year-old border guard officer, has participated in multiple rescue operations in Vietnam and abroad, the most recent one being after the earthquake in Turkey. Each operation provided him with a unique experience, but one thing was constant - his unwavering commitment to rescuing victims, or returning their remains to their families.

Young rescuer follows heart in act of humanitarianism - ảnh 1Pham Minh Huong during the search and rescue mission in Turkey. (Photo courtesy of Pham Minh Huong)

“For me, this is not just a military order, but a command from my heart,” Huong said.

People hear about the heroic feats of rescuers from the media, but few really comprehend the perilous tasks they undertake.

“Our duty is to run into places others want to escape from,” Huong said.

Hazardous terrain and severe weather are just two of the risks Huong has faced during his five years of rescue work.

Huong applied to the Search and Rescue team of the Vietnamese Border Guard's 24 Intermediate School where he has worked ever since, even though he knew it would be challenging. 

"When you do a job like this, it's not just a matter of following orders. It can feel like a spiritual duty that you don't want to stop for any reason," said Huong.

As members of the Vietnamese border guard search and rescue team, Huong and his colleagues are often responsible for large rescue operations. Upon arriving at the scene, their primary task is to locate the victims.

“The first step is to determine each victim’s exact location. In a vast area, failure to identify the correct location can result in a loss of time in rescuing victims from the rubble. After that, we conduct topographic research on the site to determine any potential dangers that may hinder the rescue process,” Huong explained.
“Our service dogs accompany us to find the victims. It's essential to do each step carefully to avoid causing additional harm to the victims. We treat them as if they were our own family members.”

Huong and his colleagues are well-trained to deal with extremely difficult rescue situations.

“The military training environment produces resilient soldiers,” Huong said, adding, “We really have to be willing to take risks. Otherwise we may not find the victim. This mission requires you to practice and improve your skills every day, with patience and perseverance. Our commander reminds us: ‘Because we are soldiers, wherever people need us, we’ll be there.’ We live with his words in mind, learning and developing our specific skills and techniques, and will continue to do so.”

Young rescuer follows heart in act of humanitarianism - ảnh 2Huong (front row, fifth from left) and his colleagues at a ceremony to honor Vietnamese border guard officers participating in the rescue mission in Turkey. (Photo courtesy of Pham Minh Huong)

The first rescue mission abroad for Huong and his colleagues was the earthquake in Turkey. An experienced officer, Huong was still shocked by the devastation. The media coverage doesn’t fully capture the extent of the destruction, Huong said.

"The most common gesture we received during our time in Turkey was people bowing and placing their hands on their heart. Our translator explained that it expressed their deep appreciation and gratitude.”

“I can’t forget the moment when a father, whose baby daughter was believed to be trapped in the rubble, approached us, and pleaded: ‘Please help us. We just want to find her body, dead or alive. I can't sleep at night imagining her lying there alone and injured.’ His words stirred my emotions and I thought of my son, who is the same age as the girl. We did our best and after several hours of work we were able to remove her body from the rubble," he recalled.

A landslide that occurred three years ago at Rao Trang 3 hydropower plant and zone 67 in Thua Thien - Hue province, burying two major generals and many officers, is unforgettable to many Vietnamese people including Huong, who participated in the rescue effort. Due to the instability of the rock and soil, the military had to mobilize significant human and material resources to find the missing officers.

"The night before we found them, I sat on a cliff edge, where I could observe the entire area. Water was rushing down, and the rain was so heavy I had to turn my face away. I feared disaster might strike again at any moment. There were thousands of people involved, not a few, as in previous operations, and it is unimaginable how catastrophic the consequences could have been,” Huong recalled.
“I reassured everyone around me and resumed the search. The day they were found, seeing my comrades lying dead under the ground and retrieving them from the swamp was a terrible experience. Although I fulfilled my mission, there was no feeling of relief at all.”

No matter how challenging the task will be, Huong said, his dedication and determination to serve people remains unshaken.

“Rest assured, soldiers are here,” he always tells people upon his arrival at the scene.