A 26 year-old Western Province man was helicoptered to Daru Hospital yesterday morning in a serious condition after sustaining penetrating trauma that left his abdomen open and organs exposed.
The man presented to the YWAM Training and Medical Ship, MV YWAM PNG, late Sunday night in a critical condition. The vessel is serving on outreach patrol in the Bamu Rural LLG and the man’s family had paddled their canoe against the tide for 14km (over two hours) to reach assistance.
He was rushed into MV YWAM PNG’s new day procedure unit (doubling as a trauma treatment room) and provided initial treatment by a team of volunteer doctors and nurses from several nations, alongside Middle Fly District Health Services (MFDHS) staff participating in collaborative patrol.
A YWAM Medical Ships’ Senior Clinic Lead, Hannah Peart, said the patient’s situation was very serious.
“Our team worked hard throughout the night to stabilise this man until safe evacuation at first light for surgery at the distant provincial hospital. In addition to the several doctors and nurses that cared for him, it was strategic to have Middle Fly District Health workers with us who provided valuable local knowledge and expertise – they are familiar with facing all sorts of challenging situations.
“This patient was in an extremely difficult scenario. There are no roads here and transporting him via dingy for hours over open-ocean to Daru was definitely not an option. Western Provincial Health was also not in a position to arrange air evacuation for logistical reasons.
“Fortunately for everyone, a Niugini Heliworks helicopter was due to be joining the ship yesterday morning to transport one of our primary health care teams for a three-day patrol to West Kikori. They agreed to urgently redirect to get the man to Daru. We are all so very grateful,” said Ms Peart.
The patient was delivered in a serious but stable condition to Daru Hospital yesterday morning and taken straight into theatre.
One of YWAM Medical Ships’ Senior Field Managers, Dr Sarah Dunn, said that the incident illustrates the excellent outcomes that can be achieved with teamwork and the value of helicopters in supporting remote field work.
“Working together across local community effort, volunteer professional skills, district health workers, provincial level health services and corporate partners, this man has had the best chance of surviving his injury. It points to great possibilities for developing access to service for rural Papua New Guineans through team work and strong partnerships.
“In particular, access to a helicopter yesterday has been the game changer. Our vision is to have more helicopter operations incorporated into our field activities, primarily to support extended-range patrol to even more remote areas. But also to be available, of course, for life saving flights like the one this morning.
“You really ‘feel’ the remoteness of these communities when crisis hits. Honestly speaking, the whirl of helicopter propellers is an absolute life-line. We are very grateful to Niugini Heliworks for their investment of flying hours this year to come alongside the work of the ship and help extend our reach to serve more people, more effectively,” said Dr Dunn.
Mr Gordon Mase, a/Family Health Services Coordinator for Middle Fly District Health Services expressed his gratefulness for the partnership witnessed yesterday and over the past years of collaboration.
“It is paramount for our people, and for delivery of health services in particular, that we uphold teamwork and partnership, mutually sharing our expertise and resources to serve well and really achieve satisfaction as health professionals.
“I am honesty really happy. It is hard to fully find words for what has happened here with this patient. These situations are just so challenging – it is very difficult to save a life in these remote locations. But together, we have done it for this man. Together, we have made a difference – it’s just wonderful.
“I sincerely thank YWAM for the support with logistics, including the helicopter, and human resource. It is such a big bonus that we appreciate. We value and honour the work YWAM does in the District and look forward to strengthening our working relationships with all our partners,” said Mr Mase.
YWAM’s Medical Ships, the MV YWAM PNG and the MV Pacific Link will continue to operate in the Southern Region, Huon Gulf and Madang Province until the end of June.
Major supporters of YWAM Medical Ships include the PNG National Government, Australian Aid, Puma Energy, Steamships Trading Company, InterOil, Western, Gulf, Central, Milne Bay, Oro and Morobe Provincial Governments, PNG Ports Corporation, Curtain Brothers, Niugini Heliworks, Rotarians Against Malaria and Pro-Ma Systems.
YWAM Medical Ships was recently informed that the man passed away a few days after arriving at Daru Hospital. His condition was very serious with extensive injuries. Our heart goes out to his family and village at this difficult time. We were privileged to be a part of the efforts alongside Middle Fly District Health and Daru Hospital to save his life.