At 6 p.m. on January 24, the sun was setting over Elazig Province in Turkey. At that time, no one could foretell that in just three hours, at 8:55 p.m., a 6.8-magnitude earthquake would severely damage 19 towns and more than 200 villages. While everyone on our Beckman Coulter team reported safe and injury-free, local hospitals were quickly overcome with men, women, and children who were injured during the earthquake. Here’s a story of some brave Beckman Coulter associates who went above and beyond for our customer and patients by keeping critical laboratory operations running in the aftermath of this natural disaster.
Most Beckman Coulter team members were at home the evening the earthquake struck, including Hatice Balci and Burak Balci. Although the married couple’s shift ended several hours earlier, they knew they wanted to help. The two made sure their three-year-old child was in safe hands before they went to Elazig Fethi Sekin City Hospital, where three Beckman Coulter associates work with a number of subcontractors in the PPP (Private Public Partnership).
Laboratory staff helping at Elazig Fethi Sekin City Hospital after the
(Pictured) Hatice and Burak Balci, fourth and fifth from left
“From those 25 seconds that the quake lasted, I can only remember the sound of crumbling furniture, shattering glass, shrieks of the people and the feeling that death must have taken a hold of us all,” said Hatice Balci, Elazig PPP Project Leader.
Getting to the hospital was no easy feat. It took more than an hour to get past collapsed buildings, tons of street traffic and countless ambulances. The couple finally arrived to help with injured patients and provide a helping hand to the laboratory staff. Beckman Coulter machines and laboratory equipment were used to help doctors decide what treatment was needed for a number of the earthquake victims admitted to the hospital. Hatice and Burak were prepared to help with this process, despite their lingering fear from the earthquake that happened a mere few hours before.
"During such critical times, it was crucial that our instruments work perfectly, there was no room for a breakdown," said Burak Balci, field service engineer. “After reaching the hospital under difficult conditions, I witnessed the hospital staff constantly rushing left and right, the ambulances continually bringing in the injured and everyone working hard to help. I quickly got to the laboratory and checked the instruments, then proceeded to process the samples as they came in. We did more than our best and worked together as a team."
"After making sure that everyone back home was safe and sound, we all braced ourselves to provide the necessary logistics, technical support and back-up personnel support for the cohort of victims that were about to arrive at the hospital,” added Hatice. "While making rounds of the emergency areas, together with the medical doctor in charge of the laboratory that night, we could see the real effects of the earthquake firsthand: doctors performing cardiac massages and first aid on injured victims retrieved from the debris and lying on stretchers. The laboratory personnel are my heroes—they stayed with us until the morning, far beyond their shifts, to help give first aid to the victims."
No Beckman Coulter associates were injured as a result of the earthquake; however, some associates have damaged homes, and everyone is working through the emotions of rebuilding after this natural disaster.
"I hope we all never have to experience this again," shared Bahattin Ekinci, senior technician, supply chain & logistics. “When I felt the earthquake, I thought for a moment that the world was coming to an end. I immediately tried to contact my family and co-workers. Just like the other helpless people around me. The calls from my family members and colleagues gave me strength."
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