Monday, March 13, 2006

The day began at 5 AM because the taxi for the airport arrived at 6:45 AM. The group of about 8 met at the airport for a flight to Narita that lasted 9 hours. Luckily, we got upgraded to first class for free. 9 hours is a very long time on the plane but were all jazzed and Ive been getting to know the players. I sat next to Dr. Jeff Goodman of Kauai, who works on these missions all the time for various agencies. Coincidentally, I reported on him about 5 years ago when he was packing up for Afghanistan for Doctors wthout Borders.

Jeff tells me that the only common denominator in all the trips hes taken is to expect the unexpected. There is no routine or predictability. He anticipates well encounter an evacuee population that will have secondary type medical issues. Were nearly 4 weeks from the mudslide, so the urgent care issues have been addressed. Now well see things like skin infections, bone fractures, scabies, teatnus, cholera, debridemont, and - this is actually reported to be happening- chicken pox, measles, and conjunctivitis.

Jeff has been on missions that include him being attacked in - I think he said - Sudan by child war lords. Thats dedication.

Our flight from Narita to Manila left at 7 PM and took 4 and a half hours. There was a medical emergency on the plane. An elderly man staggered and fell on me and a few other rows of passengers, before collapsing. Jeff and Vernon rushed to help. He was diabetic and might have had complications from that. The doctors evacuated my row so that the man could lie down. When the plane landed, the ambulance met us. The man left in stable conditon, luckily.

Oh, and by the way, my row got upgraded to first class because there was no other seating.