On a Sunday afternoon we received a call for a medevac flight from exactly the region in the north of Madagascar where we planned our flight program on Monday morning. A man with internal bleeding needed constant blood supplies to avoid bleeding to death. But it was already too late to be back from this flight before nightfall.
Unfortunately, we were completely booked out this week so I was not able to pick up the patient on Monday. But I promised to do my best to make the flight possible as soon as possible. After 4.5 flying hours I called on Monday evening and was glad to hear that the man was still alive. As there were no flights scheduled for Tuesday with the hospital Mandritsara, I was able to offer the Medevac for Tuesday. However, there was also bad news. The medical staff of the hospital where the patient was being treated refused to come in the helicopter. They were probably afraid, as they had never seen a helicopter close up. As a rule, we never fly Medevac flights with patients in critical condition without a medical escort. So, I asked the hospital in Mandritsara if any of them could come along. Regrettably, there was a shortage of doctors in this hospital at the moment, so it was not possible for a trained doctor to accompany me. I informed the relatives that I was doing everything possible and that I would report back tomorrow. The next morning, I still did not have a solution for this problem.
Then I prepared the helicopter and everything so that I would be ready. Finally, I sat down on the skid of the helicopter wondering what I should do next. At that moment Hilde, who has a leading position in the hospital, came over to me to the helicopter. She said that Rebecca, a doctor in training from England, was doing an internship with them and would like to come on a flight with me sometime. I replied that I had just been praying for someone exactly like her. Luckily, an operation had just been completed that Rebecca had assisted in. The timing was perfect. An hour later we took off for the south, where we landed after a 40-minute flight, and picked up the patient. After another hour of flight we landed in Antananarivo where an ambulance was already waiting to take the patient to a suitable hospital. He was operated on immediately.
We returned to Mandritsara, where an overjoyed Rebecca got out of the helicopter. She was thrilled with her first helicopter flight. And I was relieved and thankful that we were able to help the patient receive the operation which was vital for his survival.