This story is why any traveling fisherman, whether fishing deep in the United States desert or walking on the banks of a river in the Central African Republic, should have a medevac plan and insurance policy like those available on Global Rescue.
Our story today comes from the team at @OceanActiveFly, who recently shared a series of Instagram posts highlighting a successful medical evacuation from the Central African Republic.
The accident in question was your typical slipping and falling on your feet, but with a slightly more intense head injury, something that can happen to anyone who roars over wet river rocks while fishing. Thankfully for the fisherman involved, everything went well and they recovered successfully, but this success was really due to a well-prepared medical evacuation plan and security. Check out the story in the Instagram post series below!
Part One: On the field
“With every wild trip in the distance there is always a risk of injury, accident and illness, I guess this is part of the trips that take you out of your comfort zone! I have made hundreds of trips some of the most extreme and exploratory with minimal injuries to date. With our charter operation in Oman, we have had some accidents that have been serious, but we have managed to resolve them.
But this time in one of the most remote parts of Africa the accident happened to me and it happened to me and in such a simple way. [On the] second to last day, after climbing rocks on rivers for 6 days, landing the helicopter on a sandy shore, we had to move the little rib up a few thresholds, which we did quickly, then we were walking down an island small in the middle. of the river to get our equipment, plunged into a dry rock with a slight slope, and both my feet flew, the boots lost full control, I climbed up and up the air, sat on my back, and my head slammed against the rock naked, all I heard it was a loud crack and I smelled blood or adrenaline and almost lost consciousness, I slid down the rock into a small pool, my head against the rock and blood flowed down my cheeks and into the water, all I could do to feel was the blood flowing. from the top of my head, around my ears and in the pool, the blood was red bright red in the water.
I knew I was in trouble and I was trying to be aware. The guys I was with were obviously scared, but immediately started helping me and checking the cut, but with so much blood it was hard, as I sprayed antiseptic on the cut, I tried to sit down. I finally got into a sitting position, but I knew I was still in trouble. Thankfully we had the helicopter and decided we needed to get medical attention.
We flew back to camp and luckily there was a Veterinarian in the camp helping catch the Lord Derby Eland game. We decided to sew the wound, but unfortunately, there was no anesthesia, so the pain from the cut and sewing was real. I took some sedatives, relaxed a bit and decided the best way was to stay active and went back to fishing. “But that was just the beginning of what turned out to be a great evacuation!”
Part Two: Evacuation
“While I was out fishing, I knew something was wrong, I drank about 3 liters of water and did not urinate, I felt very tired and sick. We stopped fishing and returned to camp.
I took it lightly and realized that this could be more serious, I ate dinner and then went to bed around 9:30 pm, set an alarm every 2 hours just to check if I was still well… I had started to worry and a lot of thoughts of stories of head traumas, swelling in the brain etc. started playing in my mind.
Around 23:00 before my alarm, I woke up feeling something dripping from my ear, I woke up dizzy and confused, I was sweating and my pillow was wet, so I was not sure if the fluid was coming out of my ear . Everything in the camp was quiet and just the sound of bushes, a very lonely place to worry about what had just happened. Realizing I was still alive and aware, I turned around and lay down setting the alarm for 1:30 p.m.
About 1:15 in the morning I woke up with a large ant falling on me from the roof of the tent, I got scared and removed the dust from the ant, then I looked at my pillow and there was a yellow liquid on my pillow with pink spots. I knew it was not good for the fluid to come out of both ears. I thought it might be cerebrospinal fluid and again I thought about history of infections, meningitis, stroke, etc…
I got up and knew I had to go to a medical facility, woke up the crew at 1:30 in the morning and we started calling on the satellite phone. We called @global_rescue with my police number and started explaining where we were and what the problem was, called the doctors the crew knew to find out what was going on and then started calling contacts in Kenya in Medivac. We then called good friend @jtklugphotography as we knew he had been in a similar situation. The only thing I can say is that I am very grateful for the contacts and friends we have. After a delay in catching people and explaining what had happened, remember that the whole evacuation was from scratch, he started gaining momentum and Global Rescue and Steve Parkinson from Phoenix Air from Kenya took over coordination with the field crew , had a plan… ”
Part Three: Arrival in Kenya
“To say that this was a large-scale logistical achievement by the field crew with me would be a huge understatement, I will always remain indebted to the boys.
Around noon the plan started to rotate, we flew by helicopter to the local town and landed. The boys had to arrange the diversion of a UN Charter flight from a neighboring village that was leaving supplies. We could not fly the air ambulance because of a rough air runway. After the UN flight was confirmed through many Sat phone calls and messages, it turns out that I needed medical permission to board the flight, we managed to get the local doctor to check on me and approve me to fly. The medical certificate was sent to the UN for clearance with about 3 minutes of free time, I boarded the flight to Bangui, nervous about the pressure changes and the pilots agreed to fly low and climb slowly.
The Phoenix Air flight landed in Bangui, Steve Parkinson and @global_rescue keeping Mich and family updated, which was a great help and comfort. They had managed to get permission to fly over the DRC and we were allowed to fly to Kenya.
After some strange noises coming from my ears during the flight and struggling to clear my ears, we landed in Bangui safe and sound, and then strangely everything was organized, customs, immigration, etc … Helped by The flight to the UN straight to the Phoenix Air Ambulance, immediately an expert medical team checked me, put me in drops, vital and I started to feel safe. On the flight, I was monitored and knew if something was happening now, I was in good hands.
4 hours later we landed in Nairobi and all the paperwork and customs were processed, I was escorted to an ambulance and then to Aga Khan Hospital. I was just admitted there and underwent CAT and X-ray scans. Within 24 hours I left one of the most remote parts of Africa for full medical help. After a few hours, I had the initial feedback that I was going to live, but more tests were needed and kept for an MRI and observation.
Relief !! But the feeling of helplessness, insecurity and stress is something I will never forget, a great lesson learned! ”
Part Four: Conclusions and Lessons
“After a few days in the hospital in Nairobi performing MRI, CAT scans, X-rays and medication, the neurosurgeon was happy to be in the square and there was no major damage! This was a great relief! I went back to Dubai and I went back to fishing and I continue as normal.
The purpose of these posts was to tell the story that happened to me, it was something so simple and so fast that it could have been so much worse. I have made hundreds of trips and explorations to remote areas and I have never had a major problem, but now that this has happened, my whole perspective has changed. Stress and worst case scenario for family, clients and operators were great, but it also shows how planning is crucial and having the best medivac coverage and insurance, reputable and good operators and world-class guides all come into play , and without these, I could have been in a much worse position.
My suggestion for people who make extreme trips or to distant places is to plan properly, make sure you have good medivac coverage and excellent travel insurance, go with a good operator who knows the systems and has contacts where you are while fishing and finally, make sure to communicate with your Medivac insurance before you go and tell them where you are going. You can not expect them to know where you are and help immediately. Having an emergency is essential and if you have worked with your medivac and have someone at home with all the group information that can help is a big plus.
I’m biased, but @global_rescue was great and covered all the Medivac logistics, @jtklugphotography to be a great friend and get things moving. Steve Parkinson from Phoenix Air in Kenya is an amazing person and operator of a world class air ambulance in remote parts of Africa. Then for the boys, I was on the ground, you are a special group of operators and people. I felt safe at every step and the reason why we booked to be back again next year!
On the lighter side, when I got to the hospital they put on a wrist strap that said Fall Risk, I thought it might have been helpful a few days ago… Finally, the boys named the thresholds where Nick Falls fell. Always with a little humor… ”
The moral of the story: Being prepared for anything while on the field is absolutely necessary and will likely save your life one day. Build a plan, pack emergency equipment and get coverage from a medevac insurance agency like Global Rescue…
Highlights and Instagram posts by Ocean Active Fly.