Dr. Rik Achten, professor and head of radiology at Ghent University Hospital, helped look after severely injured victims immediately after the two bomb attacks on Tuesday at Brussels Airport, according to a report in the Flemish newspaper De Standaard.
"I am a doctor. I cannot walk away," he told De Standaard, adding that he felt very dazed after the traumatic experience but was also impressed by the work of the emergency services.
Achten, who is president-elect of the European Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology (ESMRMB), was believed to be en route to a meeting in Munich when two bombs exploded in the departure lounge at Brussels. One of the explosions was only a few meters away from him, according to the report.
Achten expressed frustration that he lacked the necessary equipment and emergency care expertise, but he said he tried hard to remember the three basic rules he had learned at medical school: ensure breathing, stop bleeding, and keep the heart going. Achten stayed with the injured until the emergency team arrived. He was then driven to safety and collected by his son, before returning to work on the same day, De Standaard noted.
Achten has worked as a neuroradiologist at Ghent since 1990, having previously worked in the MRI department of the Free University in Brussels and the Netcare Unitas Hospital in Pretoria, South Africa. He is also a promoter of I-Brain, a local initiative to bring brain science to the general public.