Ben Morley Scholarship History

On the Island of Bali, Indonesia, at 11pm on 12th October 2002, two bombs exploded outside the night clubs of Paddy’s and Saris killing 202 people and injuring over 500. One hundred metres from the Sari Club, Barry Morley, his wife Kate and daughter Grace were relaxing in their hotel when the force of the explosion hit their hotel, smashing windows and tearing away portions of the roof. By the time Barry got to the hotel foyer the first burns’ victims were already arriving. Barry and Kate, both registered nurses and specialists in critical care nursing were the only “medically trained” people at the scene where they utilised their years of Emergency and Intensive Care expertise. Barry coordinated the retrieval of victims from the buildings and he and Kate established a triage point and frontline management area where they managed 55 victims, 25 of whom were critical.

They had the full spectrum of traumatic injuries from multiple fractures, head injuries, blast lung injuries, impalements: most victims had the common denominator of burns and shrapnel wounds. Whilst Barry and Kate spent the next 12 hours assessing and coordinating volunteers, to cool burns, hydrate victims, assist those in respiratory distress, control haemorrhage and stabilise fractures, their 14 year old daughter Grace held the hands of many of the wounded and suffering in an attempt to comfort them: the family putting aside thoughts of their own recent tragedy.

This is one situation where the expertise gained through critical care nurse training can be measured. Of the 55 victims retrieved, 2 died at the scene and a further one in transit, whilst all others survived and had positive outcomes. All this was achieved without conventional medical supplies. Without the resourcefulness and immediate presence of Kate and Barry on the scene to do what critical care nurses do best, assess and treat the critically ill, many more lives would have been lost. Their efforts have since been recognised by the nation when, in 2003, they received the Medal of the Order of Australia. Barry commented that the award was a statement highlighting the very high standards and competency of Australasian emergency nurses.

However, as gallant as this story may seem and as humble as Barry, Kate and Grace are regarding the role they played in Bali, this story is not so much of the courage and compassion they displayed, but of their reason for being there…Ben Morley was only 12 years old when he died from a freak accident in the family home only eight weeks earlier….the Morley’s therefore had gone to Bali seeking respite in an attempt to begin rebuilding their lives together as a family.

In a letter to the CENA Board Barry and Kate describe Ben lovingly as a “lover of life…he did everything and did it well. He was the school and district swimming champion, a tough and promising rugby union player; and a person who did it all when it came to the outdoors and action. But Ben was also a friendly and magnetic person, was very popular and we loved him”. On reflection they “look upon Ben’s life knowing that he travelled with us to Nepal and looked across the Himalayas, he travelled across Indian plains and sat in prayer with the Dalai Lama. He lived the happiest of lives in the happiest of environments and if his life was to be short what more could we have asked”.

To pay tribute to the considerable role the Morley’s played in Bali on 12th October 2002, and to acknowledge that through the tragic loss of their son Ben, they were there at ground zero, to give their assistance unconditionally, at a time when so many of our fellow Australians needed their help. Tuta Health Care and the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia have set up the “Ben Morley Scholarship” in honour of the Morley’s. This scholarship is available to CENA members, as per the Guidelines for Education or Research into the field of Emergency Preparedness and Continuity Management.

Barry, Kate and Grace send their heart felt thanks to Tuta Health Care, CENA and the registrants of the 4th ICEN for this compliment and the hospitality paid to Barry throughout the ICEN…“our involvement at ground zero in Bali 12th October has changed our lives but we remain positive. The honour the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia and Tuta Health Care has paid us by naming the inaugural Emergency Nursing Scholarship after our son, not only compliments our efforts in Bali but also perpetuates the name of our son…it has been difficult to relay our story, particularly to the media as it is felt far too akin to seeking accolades on the back of much suffering. Hence having peers provide such a compliment is very heartening”.

Tuta Health Care and CENA Ltd, wish the Morley’s the very best of luck and encourage all members to submit an application and seek funding so that much needed education and research can be conducted within this important and necessary arena.

Following the 2008 Ben Morley Scholarship announcement, Tuta Health Care changed ownership and ceased sponsorship. In 2011 the Scholarship was again jointly sponsored by CENA and Multigate Medical Devices Pty Ltd.