– PGC Building Christchurch

I was at work at Perpetual in the PGC building doing my Will at the time (I previously worked for Public Trust and my Will was with them and I thought it is time that I bought it across to Perpetual). One of the Solicitors had walked past my desk about 10 minutes prior to the earthquake and asked me what I was doing, I advised him I was doing my Will and he said you don’t need to be doing that.

The earthquake happened and it started off very gently and I thought to myself “Oh its another aftershock” and then all of a sudden it got very violent and I thought ” Oh this is not good”. I pushed my chair back from my desk, hopped off my chair and crouched down ready to get under my desk. I kept my left hand on my chair and effectively I was kind of squatting. The building was pushed violently side to side and was lift in force up and down. Next I heard the building collapsing and that’s when I swore to myself and thought “I am not going to make it”. Everything then went black and there is a split second where I don’t know exactly what happened but I do remember hearing myself scream (kind of like an out of body experience).

I think what happened was I lost my balance as I lost my left shoe, my glasses fell off and I must have tried to steady and re balance myself as when it stopped my right hand was on my desk and I had rubble etc trapping my hand. I was in like a concrete cave and I had a steel beam resting on my right shoulder. There was lots of dust and I could hear people screaming.

Both my cellphones were flashing and ringing non stop but they had fallen down the side of my desk and because my right hand was stuck I couldn’t reach them.

My initial thoughts were if our building has gone down then the rest of Christchurch has gone down so why will they come and rescue us. I wondered if my friends were and if they were ok.

I went through a period of denial and thought no this isn’t happened, this is just a dream and I started praying to god and my mum to get me out of there. I also thought if our floor gives out (as the aftershocks following the big aftershock were very strong) then I will definitely die.

It is so true about what they say that when you have adrealin running through your body that you can lift or move things as I was able to bend the steel beam. I had two workmates in front of me that I couldn’t see because of a concrete wall between us. I was able to talk to them while we waited to be rescued. They weren’t injured and one of my workmates her partner was on the rescue team and she was able to contact him and find out what was going on outside.

I could hear people were being rescued and it seemed pretty quick that they got rescued after it stopped and it was amazing how quickly people were on our site working at getting people out.

I was trapped for six hours by my hand. It really only felt like three as you could hear alot happening outside. I kept thinking hurry up get me out of here but I knew that there wasn’t alot I could do and that I had to remain calm and wait.

About half an hour prior to being rescued I was able to get my work cell phone by pushing all of my left arm right up to my shoulder down the side of my desk to get it. I rung my Dad from inside of the building and said “Dad I am alive but my hand is stuck and I am trapped at work, our building has collapsed”. Dad was so relieved to hear my voice as he knew in his gut that something had happened to me. He said “Can you hear rescuers and I said yes people are being rescued at the moment and then he said your hand will be ok and I said no Dad my hand is not good”. Initially I thought I had lost all of my hand as I couldn’t feel it and the concrete was right up to my watch on my hand. The pain level was like a numb headache so it was bearable.

I finally was rescued at about 6pm or just after. My rescuer Steve is the most bravest person I know, he kept me so calm and when he saw into the side of my desk so that it tilted and my hand came free and I saw three fingers fall off and got hysterical he said calmly to me “Amanda, don’t worry about your hand, the most important thing is getting you out of here”. I take my hat off to him as he is a hero in my eyes and I owe my life to him.

I lost so much that day, not only my fingers but my beautiful friend and wonderful workmates.

My injury is so insignificant compared to what others have lost and I am so grateful to still be alive and it has made me realise how special and precious my life is

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