Even before he completed the emergency call, Medical Director Chris Cooke was rushing out the door, hurriedly preparing for the life flight of a young woman bitten by a death adder, one of the most venomous snakes on the planet. He jumped in the ambulance and headed to the hospital, hoping to find the anti-venom in stock. Meanwhile, President & Pilot Mark Palm took off for the airport to ready the plane for flight.
As always with snake bite emergencies, we are literally in a race against time. Depending on the size of the patient, the symptoms envenomation can rapidly progress from the initial eye lid swelling to the eventual paralysis of the diaphragm rendering the patient unable to breathe. Almost a year ago, Mark and Chris were preparing for the life flight of another death adder victim, a 2-year-old little boy that died on his way to meet the plane, just minutes after we received the emergency call. Remembering the grief and frustration of that loss the 35-minute flight to the Sepik village of Ambunti seemed like an eternity.
Upon landing, we found the patient, Martha, being carried toward us on a stretcher, she was unconscious with shallow respirations, and obviously losing control of her muscle functions. Meeting them on the muddy shore, Chris immediately started the IV and administered the anti-venom. Monitoring her closely for adverse side effects, they loaded Martha on the floatplane and took off for Boram Hospital, Hospital praying, they had reached her in time.
Just a day later, Chris and his daughter, Charleigh, visited a smiling, joyful Martha. What a privilege to now laugh and pray with her as she thanked God for her life!