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11 June 2015

I’d been on call for the weekend, answering any cargo enquiries coming in and from the moment the earthquake struck, the phone was ringing constantly. I spent the rest of the weekend in the office, not heading home until 3am such was the volume of calls coming through. When ACS asked for volunteers to head out to Kathmandu I was the first to offer. Having been on the phone all weekend I felt I was the most informed as to what was going on and could make a real difference.

After travelling to Kathmandu with the Spanish Red Cross I found myself in the thick of it, surrounded by panicked locals and representatives from various worldwide relief organisations. On behalf of ACS I started organising permits for planes, meeting with a Brigadier General, and various other high-ranking officials who made up the relief council, each morning to ensure our charters could get in. At first we had to wait for the military to fly in their equipment before our private charters could start, but once we had permits we began flying in aid such as tents, medicine, pharmaceuticals and sanitation products in everything from Antonov An-12s to Airbus A310s and A330s. We also flew in personnel, including search and rescue teams.

I had just left my daily meeting with the Brigadier General and was walking through the busy airport terminal when the second earthquake struck. Undulating ripples shook the floor beneath my feet as people started scrambling for the exits. I joined the mass of people pouring out onto the street, trying to put as much distance between myself and the buildings as possible.

For the next four nights I slept in a hotel lobby with my shoes on, too afraid to take them off in case I another quake hit. There were aftershocks, each once setting the population on edge, wondering if another quake would strike. I continued getting permits, coordinating aid charters and was even offered to opportunity to be a part of one of the teams flying across the country, dropping off aid to smaller settlements outside of Kathmandu. After almost a month I was relieved by a colleague who then took over as the ACS contact in Nepal.

Whilst they were probably the longest 26 days of my life, they were also some of my best. I’m proud to count myself as a part of Air Charter Service, a company known for being one of the first on the ground in such disasters, offering aid to those in need and helping save lives.

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