Captain’s Log – 17 February 2011 – Under the Wing

Patient gets worked on under the shade of the plane.

Looking at the picture of the kids in the shade of the tail of the plane I was thinking of some of the interesting things that happen back there or under the wing.  A couple of days ago one of the patients I was to transport started bleeding badly from his surgical wound after a bumpy motorcycle ride to the airstrip.  The medical team laid him down, on the gravel, in the shade under the tail and got the bleeding mostly stopped and cleaned up.  I put my hands on his chest and said a quiet prayer for him and then put a space blanket and couple of plastic sheets used on the surgery tables over the seat and we took the 20 minute flight to Dungu Hospital where he could be cared for better.  There has been lots of trouble on the roads lately, and people killed in ambushes, so the airplane is really doing a good job getting above the fighting.  I am continually shocked at what people go through  in the course of normal life here.  I have had patients brought in wheelbarrows or carried for 3 days by family and friends in order to get a ride in the plane to a hospital.  Patients are often seen so late in the stage of their problem that infection has spread through their whole body and little can be done.   But being there to show we care and doing what we can is still a necessity.

Virunga Park plane, flown by Warden Emmanuel de Merode, off after maintenance in Bunia

Today the warden of Virunga National Parks along with my sister Lu, who now works there, brought the park’s plane to Bunia for some maintenance.  I changed the oil and filter and looked over the engine and airframe thoroughly while Cher and Lu went off to the house to fix pizza for lunch and Emmanuel went to file a flight plan and pay his landing fees and taxes.  I was pretty much finished by the time Emmanuel got back.  This does not say how fast I am, but rather how long it takes to do the paperwork around here.  We had a lovely lunch but all too soon they were off back to Virunga leaving Cher and me with the feeling that the time had been too short.  Lots is happening in the park.  They have had a very rough month with many attacks on personnel and many deaths.  You can read about this on the Gorilla blog which I have a link to.

Lu’s view. Sad to see them go, but it was fun to have them here.

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