Monday, February 7, 2011


If you were told there was a major bus accident with many injuries and had 30 seconds to grab whatever you needed, what would you grab? And that includes not knowing how far away it is or how long you will be gone.

Today we went to the Adventist church here in Francia Sirpi. I think we tripled the amount of people there. Everything was spoken in Spanish and Miskito, so David sat behind us during the sermon to translate into English. After church we walked back up to the mission to eat lunch. Some were still down at the church when word came in that there was a large bus accident down the road a ways with many people hurt including some church members returning to Francia.

So I was sitting on the porch when Ryan ran up and asked if I wanted to go.

“Go where?” I asked, having not heard anything.

“There's an emergency. Go grab your water and jump in the truck.”

So I ran up to our cabin, pulled on some scrub pants, and quickly grabbed anything around me that looked stethoscope, a few granola bars, sunscreen, headlamp, and jacket in case we stayed after dark. I ran out to fill up my water bottle but we ran out of water after only filling it halfway. I jumped into the back of the truck along with the 3 other students, the SM girl here, our leader Jeff, Dr. Peterson, and a German nurse doing a rotation for medical school out here. We took off and I heard the news that they thought a bus on its way to Francia had rolled. Everyone was speculating on how many injuries that could mean, how to respond, who to leave at the site while transporting patients, etc. I just sat down in the back and got comfortable for as possible for a long ride on the bumpy road, remembering all the miscommunication that usually happened with emergencies in Africa.

We drove through the village on our way out and stopped to talk to the church members about the accident. Within a few minutes, the German nurse, David, started mumbling excitedly in German and finally in English, “Why aren't we going?! Why are they wasting time talking!” As the trip continued, he was continually fidgeting and exclaiming, “How far is it? Are we ever going to get there?!

The SM girl, Brittany, and I kept responding with, “It's ok. There is no rushing it, and there's no reason to be worried so much about it until we get there and see the situation.” In my mind I was already wondering if maybe it was just a car or truck instead of a big bus coming all the way out to the village. Brittany started getting very concerned that there was only one other person along besides her that spoke Spanish well. I kept trying to reassure her too that we would be fine with our basic Spanish and hand gestures. Anyway, it turned into a long bumpy ride where I felt like I was constantly saying, “relax, we'll figure it out when we get there.” Looking back on it now, I wonder where I became so laid back. I can certainly have my times of wanting to have everything planned out and analyzed. And how can I say, “don't worry” when I'm a huge worrier at times. I think it's something to do with the “overseas mode” coming back to me. Letting things slide along as they come, not getting anxious about things we don't even know.

About a half hour down the road we stopped a moto driver heading the other direction. He surprisingly told us that he hadn't seen anything on the road on the way in. No accident, no large amounts of people, no bus. So we decided to head back to the village until hearing more. David immediately got anxious again, poor guy, so worried that we might just be leaving people out there to die. But we couldn't just drive out blindly, wandering around with not even a confirmed report. They had probably already all been transported to the hospital in Waspam if it had happened. As Brittany and I agreed on that and about waiting back at the village, he looked at us like we were ogres or something. I wonder if I'm too calloused already from past experiences. I returned to the mission without much of a later thought on what might have happened, knowing we might never know. All the students were sitting around in their scrubs, prepared for patients when we arrived and there was a bit of a collective disappointment when they heard the news. No, we aren't crazy EMTs always wanting people to be hurt, we just want to be there when it happens so that we can help!

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