Medevac from Suai: MAF in Timor-Leste
Written by Kim Job, MAF Timor-Leste
As I watched VH-MAH, a GA8 aircraft climb into the sky above Dili International Airport, my eyes filled with tears, knowing that most likely this flight would help to save someone’s life. The pilot, my husband, Jason was on his way to Suai a town on the southern coast of Timor-Leste. A medevac call had been requested from the medical staff in Suai for a woman, 28 weeks pregnant who was having complications with her pregnancy, as well as suffering from two other serious medical conditions that could be potentially life threatening. This woman was in great need.
As a MAF wife I have seen my husband take off into the sky so many times I can no longer keep count. I have watched him go on and return from medevac flights many times. I have watched the plane tracker on my computer to ensure he is safe. But these events do not usually make me cry. However, this medevac flight was different.
This flight to Suai was different because just weeks ago our family drove the road to Suai to deliver a drum of fuel to the airport there (Read the story HERE). It was a journey of more than five hours. The trip was hot, bumpy and in parts I was not sure that we were even on the right road as the road conditions were so bad. The road to Suai winds through mountain ranges and valleys, with both my son and I feeling car sick at various times.
While the scenery is truly spectacular, beautiful and green at this time of year, the landslides on the road were a constant reminder of just how unpredictable these roads can be. As you travel along the road you encounter goats, dogs, cows and on our trip even a few monkeys. Groups of children walk along the sides of the roads on their way to school, making the roads even narrower than they truly are. Not knowing who or what will be on the road around the next bend reduces the speed at which you can safely drive, which slows down your trip considerably.
This flight to Suai was more emotional for me, because I now knew what MAF was saving this young woman from. This one thirty minute flight in an GA8 Airvan was saving her from five or more hours in the back of a road ambulance, on that hot, dusty, bumpy road. The road ambulance is the only alternative form of transport when the MAF aircraft cannot fly.
As Jason returned to Dili, approximately an hour after he took off, three teary family members and a nurse all climbed out of the plane to help unload the patient and their belongings. The distressed faces of the family members and Jason’s whispered, “She’s not doing well,” made my heart ache.
But again I was reminded of the reality the situation. If this young woman was this ill would she have even survived the trip by road to Dili if our plane was not able to medevac her?
My gut feeling, said no. Perhaps this medevac flight will save her life, and the life of her unborn child… perhaps it won’t. We don’t often hear the end of the story for our medevac patients, so we don’t know what the outcome is.
But I do know that I am so thankful that MAF can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes for seriously ill people to be transported to Dili and therefore receiving more thorough medical care. I am so thankful that in a time of great stress and worry for her family, that they were not subjected to five hours of bumping and dust on that road from Suai. I am so thankful that perhaps MAF increased her chance of life, health and motherhood by providing this thirty minute flight from Suai.