20 August 2009

The other side of the coin

As we detailed recently with the landing gear incident, things don’t always go as planned.

We like to tell of how we make a difference in southern Africa and of how peoples lives are changed for the good because of the work Mercy Air does.

I was mentally formulating another blog after the phone rang last night, asking whether we were available to transfer a man with a broken leg from Beira to Maputo in Mozambique.

I went back to the office to do a quote and fax it off to the medical company in Maputo. I also had to apply for an emergency flight permit to enter Moz as well as Air Force authority to fly in South Africa, as we are in the middle of a test week for flight restrictions around the stadia that will be used for next years footy World Cup.

A whole bunch of other things needed to be sorted out. Headsets, GPS, airport fees money, sat phone, food and drinks, blankets, survival kit, check the weather etc. I did the flight planning at home whilst having my dinner.

At nine o clock we got a call that the quote had been accepted and that the flight was definitely on. That meant bigger alterations to the plane. Seats had to be removed and a stretcher fitted but all this by torch light as the hanger has no lights. All that took time but we were in bed by 11:00.

Half past five this morning I was up again – breakfast, check the weather, when just as I was leaving the house the phone rang. It was the paramedic in Maputo saying that the patient had died during the night so the flight was off. Apparently he had two broken femurs and internal bleeding. I had expected someone with a badly broken ankle so this came as quite a shock.

All dressed up with no-where to go. The 210 this morning before taking the stretcher out.

So, no dramatic story or photos of another successful mercy mission accomplished against the odds. Just a tired head and another hour spent this morning returning the plane to normal passenger use.

You get quite psyched and focused when preparing for these last minute emergency requests. But when they are called off at the last minute you can feel very flat, especially when time hasn’t even given you a chance to help. Although uncommon, it’s just another aspect of the job that usually doesn’t usually get told.

Mercy Air team

1 comment:

  1. THANK YOU! It's really good to hear of the 'negative' side of jobs - the hours spent to no avail - and you hinted well at the added pressures within your context. A worthwhile blog...