Not sure if it's because we're so short on pilots right now, or just because there's been an increase in accidents and sickness interior, but recently it seems like I've been doing a ton of medevacs. Usually, the number of people that show up from the village to see the person off, is directly proportional to how critical his/her condition is. This one was about average.
Recently there was an outbreak of measles in two small villages near the Malaysian border. It was hitting almost everyone who lived there, and hitting them hard! There's a really tiny, marginal strip about a 1 1/2 hour hike from the one village. We flew a bunch of loads (2 or 3 people at a time b/c the strip is so marginal we can't even load the airplane half full) to Long Bawan for treatment, but eventually it became clear that it made more sense to fly the medical team into the village to treat the people on site. There were just too many! Here's a picture from above. It's surrounded by mountains on all sides.
Wednesday afternoon we got a call late in the day for a double medevac from Long Nawang. In the past few years they've been pushing some roads through the rugged jungle down in that area for logging and whatnot. They're all but impassible by anything but the most rugged 4x4s and heavy equipment. And very slow and extremely dangerous! There's often landslides and the roads are very steep and slippery. But that doesn't stop folks from trying. In this case, their truck went over the edge and rolled down about 75 feet to the bottom of a ravine. When I got there, most of the village was waiting...indicative that this one was pretty serious.
For what they went through, they were fortunate to be alive. Others have done this and not been so fortunate. Still, they weren't in good shape. Especially the one. Multiple, complex fractures of legs, arms, and unknown internal injuries, plus head injuries. It took about 40 minutes for me to configure the plane and load everyone up and then we were on our way.
This would have been a very difficult load for a 206. Actually, impossible from that airstrip, because the 206 isn't capable of carrying that much weight from Long Nawang, not to mention the number of people (family) that accompanied the patients. But the Kodiak handled it no problem.
An hour and ten minutes later we were landing in Tarakan where two ambulances were waiting. We've got a great team here in Tarakan, mechanics, office personnel, logistics, etc.--and they are always ready to do whatever is needed to help. I may be the one on the front lines, but without them, and YOU, none of this would be possible. I'm thankful to play just a small part in showing the love of Jesus to the people we serve on the wings of MAF!
Thanks to Ben Eadie for seeing my camera sitting there and taking the initiative to snap the last two shots in this post.