This week was our turn to monitor the emergency radio again. It was toward the end of Saturday (4 pm) and Dad leaned over the radio to answer.
“Alpha 899 is listening, go ahead.”
The health worker, who had called us, proceeded to tell us he had a five-year-old boy who had been bitten by a death adder early that morning. He lived in a very remote area that is only accessible by plane or days of hiking.
“Why wait till now to tell us?” I mouthed to Dad.
The health worker then proceeded to tell us that he had been monitoring the boy and the child was showing signs of the poison taking affect.
“I have no anti-venom,” he explained to us.
We quickly tried to contact a doctor to get their advice. Frustratingly, the hospital was not answering. So we got on our local VHF radio, which connects to all the local CRMF and MAF houses in Goroka, and two other families began helping us to get in contact with doctors/hospital.
Finally, we got in contact with a MAF family who was living at the same place that the hospital was located. The pilot ran across the airstrip and gave the phone to one of the nurses, who began accessing the situation.
She speedily approved a MAF flight and a plane took off, with only a few daylight hours left, to deliver anti-venom to the boy.
After the nurses gave the boy anti-venom, they had to rush back out to the before the sun set. Sadly, 30 minutes later, the young boy died. While everyone had worked to get it delivered on soon as possible, the dose had been administered too late.
The next day I hopefully sent a text to the MAF pilot, asking him how the boy was. After receiving his answer, I went to Dad’s office desk and told him. We both stared angrily into space. It was hard being in that situation, having tried our best to help and knowing that a little boy had just lost the rest of his life.
There are many days like this, when we try our hardest to help a person and yet in the end nothing can be done. I know this is a depressing story, but they are many, many more stories about people’s lives being saved through HF radio.
Below is the video of Brian talking to the aid worker and trying to organize communication.