A doctor who helped carry out a double leg amputation on a man trapped in the Pyne Gould Building in central Christchurch says the experience was terrifying.
Stuart Philip was working with two other medical specialists to treat and free the man shortly after the 6.3-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday.
He says the man would never have survived if they had not performed the surgery.
Dr Philip says they had only a basic anesthetic and had to use a leatherman and a hacksaw provided by some local tradesmen.
The man is now in Waikato Hospital with his wife and two children at his side.
Dr Philip says while they managed to save him, there were others in the devastated building they simply could not help.
Some patients couldn't be saved
A doctor who helped set up a make-shift triage centre in Christchurch immediately after the quake says the hardest part of the job was seeing patients die because teams could not get them to hospital.
Jeff Brown had been running a course on Advanced Pediatric Life Support when quake hit.
Dr Brown and about 40 colleagues spent the next 24 hours tending to the shocked and badly injured in Latimer Square and says it was humbling to see what people did to help others.
He told Radio New Zealand's Afternoons programme he saw colleagues do things way beyond what they had trained for and in circumstances they would never have imagined.
However, Dr Brown says after seeing what they did, it will take a long time to return to functioning normally.