Three Saturday’s ago we held sixtieth celebrations in the Hangar in Mt Hagen. That week had been quite crazy and so would be the weekend. I had traveled out to Kudjip Friday after work and returned to town that morning with Becky for the celebrations. My car had overheated on our return trip, I didn’t have time to look at it on our arrival. During the celebrations I rolled and sprained my ankle. During lunch we were asked if we would like to go on a medivac flight. Normally a single engine aircraft would go, but none were available. Only the Twin Otter that had been used for joy flights during the celebrations. I know that when an offer comes along, not to say no. I had not been on a medivac before and the last time I had flown into a bush community was almost a year ago. It would also be Becky’s first medivac flight and flying into a bush strip. In this opportunity, there would be five of us going. Michael and Sean, the Twin Otter Pilots and Mary Ann, who was visiting PNG with the ministry team traveling for the sixtieth celebrations.
1. P2-MFU at Woposali
The need for the medivac had been called from a village called Woposali, near the Southern Highlands/Chimbu border. Where a woman who had given birth, had a suspect retained placenta. Following Michael giving a speech on MAF’s sixty years in PNG, we all made our way to the aircraft parked outside the hangar. As the celebrations continued inside the hangar, they were interrupted by the Twin Otter starting up and departing. I was looking forward to the flight and experiencing it with Becky, but at the same time I had bad expectations of the condition of this lady. It was roughly a twenty five minute flight, as we flew, we saw new parts of PNG that we had not seen before. As we approached Woposali, we descended down and then over the airstrip, unto an approach I have not witnessed before. Following the fly over we banked continuing flying through a gorge, with trees either side of the plane and a river below us. Once coming out of the gorge we banked again to see the airstrip and final approach, it was quite something. It is said by one MAF PNG Pilot as the most spectacular approach in the country.
2. Kepeame assisted onboard
The airstrip was a little wet and we slid a little on the landing, something I have not experienced in the Twin Otter before. On arrival we were met by several locals at the airstrip, but not like normal medivacs. The patient was not waiting at the airstrip, but in the village. I was quite amazed by the amount of locals who did not have good Tok Pisin, but most were talking in Tok Ples (their dialect-which can be common in remote communities). This must have assisted in the break down of communication. While awaiting the patient to arrive, we had the opportunity to talk to the local villagers and take in the beautiful scenery. There is something quite special about being in the middle of no where in PNG and the serenity. During this time we discovered that there were two ladies with potential retained placentas requiring medivac. When the patient arrived, Kepeame, she was being assisted by two people. She was not as sick as I had expected thankfully, but she did not look good and needed to get to a hospital. Because of the breakdown in communication, her wasman (guardian) was up river. Since we had time and it was not immediately life threatening, we waited for him to arrive. During this time she rested in the aircraft, where Mary Ann and Becky spent time with her. Becky examined her, Mary Ann and Becky also prayed with her. They figured it out to the best of their ability that she is an older woman with pelvic pain and likely pelvic inflammatory disease leading to sepsis (a bad infection that can be serious). In the meantime the second woman, Justina, arrived needing to be flown out. She walked onto the plane unassisted. (she didn’t have a retained placenta either, but possibly was pregnant again or having an infection).
3. Mary Ann & Becky praying with Kepeame
After some wait and clarifying communication, we departed Woposali. We made it back to Mt Hagen in the later afternoon. Being met by the Wesleyan missionary who had requested the medivac. The ladies and wasman were transported into town and taken to the hospital. I returned to my Lancruiser to evaluate the damage done and see if I could drive us into town. Last week I received a report that both ladies had been discharged from Mt Hagen General hospital and both had good health. It was a real privilege for Becky and I to witness a medivac, even though it was not as critical as others. It was a powerful reminder to me after experiencing the sixtieth celebrations and hearing Michael’s speech, the end result of God’s work through MAF.
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