Among the heroes who emerged from the Brussels airport attack is American doctor Laura Billiet, who rushed to the aid of several wounded people after two bombs rocked the departure hall of the airport.
Billiet, an internal medicine physician, was reportedly dropping her friend Laura Harper off at the airport when the two heard the first bomb detonate.
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"It was very surreal. It was not that loud of a sound," Harper told ABC News. "At first I wasn’t concerned and then I thought, 'Wait, that doesn’t make sense. Why would I hear that?' When I turned around, I saw glass and dust billowing out. I said, 'That was a bomb.'"
Billiet said she didn’t even realize what was going on until Harper told her she had just heard a bomb and their first instinct was to drive away. Due to the traffic conditions in that moment they were stuck, and then the second bomb went off.
"She said, 'It’s another bomb. Let’s get out and run,'" Billiet said of Harper. "We got out of the car and started running."
The two women ran to a police station and took cover. When police officers left to investigate what was going on, the women were left alone while injured people were arriving in waves, according to ABC News.
Billiet’s instincts kicked in and she went into doctor mode to help save lives.
“She started to triage,” Harper recalled of Billiet. “She said, 'There’s people hurt. I’m going to go help those people.'”
Still in fear and shock, Harper also joined in to help her friend tend to the wounded strangers.
“It still felt unsafe. We kept waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Billiet recalled, saying she thought there might be a gunman or another bomb. “Then we started to see children coming in who were injured. We started working on trying to help people and we didn’t have a lot of things to work with.”
With paper towels and a pair of scissors, Billiet was able to cut away clothing to find injuries and soak up blood.
“The first airport employee I saw — all her hair had been singed off on one side, she had shrapnel in her face and blood all down her shirt and her pants were soaked in blood,” Billiet said. “I cut the pants off her and she had lots and lots of shrapnel wounds in her leg that were bleeding. A lot of people looked like that, some kids — that was the hardest thing to see for us.”
Billiet and Harper said they witnessed a touching display of humanity among the wounded who put others with worse injuries before themselves. “A lot of people said, ‘No, no, I can wait. Look at him first or look at her first,’” Billiet recalled. "That was nice to see."
Harper comforted two hysterical young girls who were injured and had lost track of their parents. She sang to them, trying to keep them as calm as possible.
"I think those girls needed someone with them and there wasn’t anyone available to speak their language," Billiet said. "She [Harper] really did a good service and thank God because there were so many people there that needed things and so little that we had to give them."
Billiet and Harper were the saving grace to the people who entered that police station until paramedics eventually arrived and transported people to nearby hospitals.
While their experience was certainly frightening and tragic, the two life-long friends were at the right place at the right time to use their skills to save lives.
Banner Photo Credit: Reuters