Aussie award for Kiwi Bali bombing helper

By Derek Cheng

Surrounded by dead bodies and a procession of injured people in Kuta, Bali, Aucklander Richard Poore's instinctive reaction was to help.

The scene was October 2002, moments after bomb blasts claimed the lives of 202 people, including 88 Australians and three New Zealanders, at the popular tourist destination.

Mr Poore and his Australian wife, Gill, leaped into action, not sleeping for three days as they tended the wounded, fielded phone calls and transported critically injured people to hospital.

After a brief trip back to New Zealand, they returned for a week, armed with 80 boxes of medical supplies and two nurses.

Mr Poore, now living in Sydney, followed his wife's footsteps this week when he was awarded the Order of Australia for his services to the people of Bali in the aftermath of the attack.

Mrs Poore received the same award earlier this year.

"It's unexpected and nice to be recognised, but I feel like I'm getting something for what we would have done anyway," Mr Poore said from Sydney, where he works for Sky Television.

"It wasn't a conscious thought, just a reaction. You have no control over what you do in situations like that."

Mr and Mrs Poore, in Bali on a second honeymoon, were in their room at the Bounty Hotel when the bombs exploded, shattering windows.

Mr Poore, at the time a presentation director for Television NZ, grabbed a video camera and ran outside.

"In front of the hotel was a procession of wounded people heading towards me - dazed, shocked, confused, some covered in blood, others had clothing blown off their bodies. It was pretty horrendous.

"I ran back to the hotel where Gill and another lady, a nurse, had set up a triage unit in the hotel foyer."

With the hotel manager, he set up a base where they treated about 50 people.

Mr Poore also dealt with calls from media, and families trying to trace missing loved ones.

"I had to tell one guy that we had confirmation that his son was dead ... it was pretty nasty.

"We stayed for three days, working non-stop, no sleep. We just did whatever we could."

The couple came back to Auckland but felt "survivor guilt, sitting there thinking why am I still alive when others are dead".

Mr Poore and his wife set up a donation line with Vodafone and organised the collection of medical equipment.

They returned to Bali with 80 boxes of medical supplies and two nurses who specialised in burns.

Among those helped were two village boys the hospital had turned away.

"One guy had a bolt an inch into his thigh, and the hospital told him it was nothing, go home. His brother had a shrapnel wound in his head," Mr Poore said.

While thrilled with the award, he said the best rewards were unofficial.

"We've been back each year. The entire population of Kuta knows us by first name now. It's nice to know you've made an impact on people's lives."

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