Most people try to flee emergencies and combat zones, but Australian Alison Thompson runs toward the danger.
Ahead of her ninth trip to Ukraine in 2022, the humanitarian charity worker and paramedic has received a US Presidential Lifetime Service Award, usually reserved for American citizens.
The award, which honours "outstanding volunteers and recognises the impact they make", was one of five presented on Friday.
"It's not about me, it's more about my team - and I don't do this work to get awards for my ego," Dr Thompson told AAP.
"Awards can help my organisation and assist the people I am trying to help and inspire people to volunteer."
Her organisation, Third Wave Volunteers, features a network of more than 30,000 volunteer first responders across the globe.
"I've been a full-time volunteer since September 11, 2001 and part-time ever since I was a kid," Dr Thompson said.
As a first responder, she pulled survivors from rubble at ground zero in New York, has run refugee camps, field hospitals and resilience hubs at natural and man-made disaster sites around the world.
Dr Thompson has travelled to Ukraine eight times in 2022 and helped rescue 24 special-needs children and orphans on behalf of a US-based non-profit anti-trafficking exploitation organisation.
She has also taught combat medical aid to civilians and soldiers inside bomb shelters on the front lines.
"It was very intense when I was last over there, there were a lot of bombings. We were always looking above to see if any drones or missiles were coming," she said.
Last September, while between visits to Ukraine, Dr Thompson helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Ian in Florida.
"There is so much suffering and calamity around the world right now and the world is off balance, we need to do what we can," she said.
Third Wave Volunteers, under Dr Thompson's leadership, helped to evacuate citizens from the two recent hurricanes as well as deliver medical and food supplies.
"When I go into these disasters, the message always remains the same; it is all about teamwork - and everyone is needed," she said.
Australian Associated Press
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