The setting is Solwezi, a city in the north-west of Zambia, at 10am on an ordinary weekday. Solwezi is the capital of North-Western Province. The town has approximately 65,000 inhabitants. Most of the people living there are somehow connected to the copper mines. A mine worker is checking the fire extinguisher. What he doesn`t know is that the overpressure gauge is out of order and, sure enough, the whole things explodes, injuring his hand. This hand he needs in order to work, to get paid and to sustain his family. First aid is done by the local paramedics. They are realizing pretty quickly that he needs further care in order to get back on track.
Next step: initialising a cascade of further treatment.
Flying Mission cut its teeth in Botswana with Medevacs (Medical Evacuations) and have brought their experience to Zambia with them. When a call comes to assist in this way, the machinery runs smoothly to provide the kind of support the patient and medics need. Here pilot Timo talks us through his experience as Team FMZ provides what’s needed for this miner.
11 am: Flying Mission Zambia receives an emergency call for a medevac. Our flight scheduler, Erika, collects all the needed details about the patient’s condition, which pilot is available, how fast they need the medevac etc. and forwards all the information to the pilot, in this case, me. With help from Jason, a friend and work colleague, the plane is ready for take off in no time. The patient will be taken care of in the plane by a paramedic from an ambulance stationed in town. After a while he arrives at Chilongolo, 15 kms from town. We are helping him to put all the needed medical items into the plane in order to take off as soon as possible.
12 noon: Take off. (That may sound pretty long by Western standards but for this part of the world it is actually very good). Ahead of us is a 2 hour flight.
2:00 pm: After a nice, smooth flight, the patient boards and we are ready for take off back to Lusaka. The ambulance, which the paramedic came with, waits for us at Chilongolo. It will take the patient to a hospital in Lusaka to have him checked out and to prepare him for his next flight down to South Africa. (The kind of surgery the patient needs is not possible here in Zambia.) It is going to be a long journey for him, first of all to reach the hospital where they can do the surgery on his hand, then the road to recovery.
5 pm: The plane is parked up in the hangar, ready for its next task, and all necessary paper work is done. I lock the plane but my thoughts are still with the patient. I pray for a smooth flight down south, an excellent surgical team, well trained nurses and a fast healing process. I am thankful to know that God is in control. I just relax and let God be God!