“We gave each other support.”
Ottobock employee Ömer Deveci visited his family in Turkey during the earthquake
Monday, 13 March 2023
Ömer Deveci, Senior Technical Implementation Manager at Ottobock, spent a holiday with his family in the Turkish metropolis of Adana in February. Close to the epicenter, he witnessed the severe earthquakes on February 6. Today, he uses his expertise to support the relief efforts of the Ottobock Global Foundation. In this interview, he shares his experiences with us:
How did you experience the earthquake?
In the early hours of the morning we were awakened by the swaying ceiling lights. From all directions we heard screams. My family lives on the sixth floor of a high-rise building, and we thought it was going to collapse at any moment. When the quake was over after almost 30 seconds, we immediately put on our jackets, packed our valuables and left the house.
What thoughts went through your head?
It felt like an eternity. Having already experienced a severe earthquake in 1999, I thought I was prepared for such situations. But in that moment, everything was gone. So many thoughts were going through my mind at the same time: On the one hand, I was terrified of death and on the other hand, I was incredibly happy to be with my family right now. We gave each other support.
Where did you find refuge?
When we hit the road, we met a helpless woman with a baby. Together with them we get into car and try to sleep inside. There we were safe until the noon, when we went upstairs to our apartment again to collect the remaining stuff.
And then came the second quake…
That's right. First, we thought of aftershocks. Like the night before, the walls started to shake and everything fell down. My sister and her three-year-old twins panicked, my father collapsed. At first I thought of a heart attack, but fortunately this has not been confirmed. The quake was a little shorter, but just as strong as the first. Afterwards we packed up all the important things again and went back to my father's company which was surrounded by olive gardens. We were safe there.
What was the situation after that?
It was a horrible image that left its mark on me emotionally: I have seen so many children crying for their parents in the rubble. During the quake, they hugged their children protectively and died in the process. Countless helpers have used large construction machinery to carefully remove houses at risk of collapsing. A man tried to stop the machines, for fear that his father's body would be buried under the rubble.
Was there a great deal of helpfulness?
The willingness to help is still indescribably great. After the initial shock, countless people immediately sought ways and means to care for the injured, remove the debris and quickly recover the dead. International aid organisations have set up tents for all those affected within a very short time and are still helping wherever they can. You don't feel left alone and that feels good after this intense experience.
What is the current situation?
While some cities like Hatay actually no longer exist, in some less affected regions everyday life is slowly returning. People build their houses and work again. Our house and my sister's house are only slightly damaged. We were incredibly lucky.
What's next for you after you get back?
Currently, about 9,000 people are reported to have lost arms or legs in the earthquake. That's why I'm already working closely with my colleague Uli Maier, who prepares digital training in disaster areas as a master O&P professional. Starting mid-April, we will be providing on-site training for O&P professionals in using Ottobock's digital fitting solutions, such as scanners, virtual product configuration and data transfer to iFab Production, where we fabricate the custom products. I support this with my professional know-how.
Image destroyed children's room (earthquake Turkey)
Image Portrait Ömer Deveci
Image destroyed staircase
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