Less Than One Hour of Flying Time to Save a Life…

Posted on 1 May 2008

Categories: Avions Sans Frontières, Community development

Dawn is just breaking over Dungu. Already, the Avions Sans Frontières (ASF) hangar is busying itself, thus putting an end to the morning tranquility of the Congolese bush. As before each flight, the pilot and mechanics are bustling about the Cessna 206, making sure that everything is in order. However, on this particular morning, the routine is disturbed. Indeed, a medical team is surrounding a giant who is lying on a homemade stretcher.

Jerry, an inhabitant of Dungu, was involved in a major accident the day before. He was thrown headfirst on the ground after a terrible fall off a motorcycle. Jerry was lucky in his misfortune, in that the injury was not life threatening, and the staff at the hospital in Dungu managed to stabilize him so he could be evacuated to Isiro. There, he will have access to a more sophisticated medical facility than that of the small bush hospital in Dungu. Poor Jerry can also count himself lucky to have the entire ASF-Dungu team at his disposition. The plane will enable him to travel 210 kilometers to reach Isiro in less than an hour, whereas the same trip by car would have been unthinkable for a head trauma victim. The road is so awful that cars simply cannot get through, and it would have taken him nine hours by motorcycle through bumps to reach the hospital in Isiro. With the rising sun, the plane takes off from the Dungu runway, with Jerry aboard. At the controls, Stéphan Bihan manœuvre, flies smoothly and cautiously to quickly bring his passenger to Isiro.

47 Evacuations

In 2007-2008Avions, Sans Frontières evacuated 47 sick and wounded persons. Of this number, 19 were considered to be severe cases, and were transferred by the general reference hospitals in Dungu and in Poko towards hospitals in Isiro, which have good medical infrastructures such as x-ray, ultrasound and cardiology equipment. Furthermore, 17 patients were transferred from the interior to the reference hospital in Dungu, whereas nine other were transferred from Dungu to an ophthalmology clinic in Aru, for surgical procedures. Finally, two patients were sent to Bunia for lower limb surgeries. In addition to these evacuations, Avions Sans Frontières transported 239 kg of medicine.

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