Tripoli nurse: 'It's absolutely horrific'
- 23 August 2011
- From the section Africa
Karen Graham, a matron at the 11th of June Hospital in a residential area of Tripoli, told the BBC World Service about working in a hospital which is right in the thick of the fighting:
"It's absolutely horrific. Unfortunately we're in the residential area of Gargour and it's being defended with force from the rebels.
There is a bridge about 20m from where I am in the hospital, and one side of the bridge is pro-Gaddafi and one side of the bridge is anti. They're chucking rocks and everything at each other, and it's just awful.
Last night there were massive rocket-propelled grenades and heavy arms fire, small arms fire, and that went on for about three to four hours.
The patients are absolutely petrified. And the staff are petrified.
We had rebels inside our compound last night and they said they were trying to protect us but they were actually trying to gain a better vantage point at some snipers across the road.
We're not daft. We could see exactly what they were doing.
They are respecting the fact that it's a hospital although obviously we can't really function as one of those at the moment, because we're in the middle of this battle.
The streets are deserted, absolutely deserted and nobody can move outside.
Even to go to my laboratory last night - I was dicing with death.
It's not the fact that they are aiming at us, it's all the stray bullets that you've got to worry about.
Unfortunately we did get injuries last night - from people who were leaving the mosque and stray bullets hit them.
We're treating anybody and everybody - we don't discriminate at all.
And they know that - there are no issues.
Overnight, Tripoli was pitch black.
All the electricity got cut, we only just got power back.
But to find a capital city completely in blackness, not one light, for miles and miles, it's an eerie thing.
It is very unnerving.
Duty of care
We do have generators, and in terms of supplies we are doing OK compared to a lot of the government hospitals, which ran out of the basics months ago.
Last week they even ran out of oxygen.
The local hospital, the central hospital, has got no scrub nurses.
They're all Libyan, they're all scared to come to work, so they can't actually carry out any operations.
The doctors are all setting up their own little clinics - out of the city - because it's not safe to work inside the city.
Would I leave if I could?
No, I've got a job to do. I feel a duty of care to these people.
I'm the matron at this clinic and I've got a lot of nurses that look up to me.
Although I've only been here nine months, I'm accepted in the clinic and I'm well thought of.
I can't desert them when they really, really need me.
And now they really, really need me.
I just want to be here and want to be a stabilising force and help them through this horrific time."