Almost on the eve of our departure…

Medical Volunteer Opportunities Abroad

Holly and I finally face the task of completely clearing out, organizing, and restocking our medical go-bags

This week saw the first heavy, 3 day long pouring rain for several weeks (of course, while we are trying to load the boat and finish our preparations for departure) and the tying off of many threads we have been following for months…we closed up our clinic in Oakridge, packing everything up and saying hasta luego a mi pacientes.  Un momento muy difficile.  Thank goodness we plan to return to open the clinic permanently as a satellite clinic, open every day with a doctor and staff on site even when Southern Wind is working elsewhere.  Knowing we are coming back after this voyage, and knowing that with what we learned and the relationships we forged on Roatan, we can and will open that clinic, makes it much easier to say farewell.  Instead, we say (we are going to Haiti, after all) aur revoir.

We finished off a lot of rainy day projects inside the boat (there are always, always more

Capt. Ed cutting a new gasket for our 671 GM engine pan...doin' it old school

projects), and got down to the business of prepping to load—that means taking every item out of its storage onboard, condensing everything, repacking all our medical go-bags (thank you Dr. Holly!), and most important:  we took delivery of our 5 pallets of material left over in Miami from our last mission to Haiti (thank you Gary, Donna, and everyone at Roatan Rotary!), and our 40-foot container from Direct Relief International, packed with medicine and equipment for the clinics in the island and distributed the material to 5 clinics and the public hospital on the island.

And the unloading begins...

This is a crowning moment for Sky.  To get this container in, it required over 1,000 emails between Sky, the shipping company, Direct Relief International, Joseph Natale from Fundacion Heart Ventures, the customs office, the customs broker, Roatan Rotary, a cross-country trucking company and a local trucking company in Miami and another in Roatan, the warehouse in Miami with our 5 leftover pallets, the Ministry of Health in Honduras, 6 different clinics on Roatan, and Cepudo (a Honduran NGO on the mainland).

Roatan Public Hospital emergency room with the floor up to fix the backed up sewer

The difficulty is not in sending down material—anyone can order a container and have it

Gary and Sky picking up the pallets Rotary helped us bring in

shipped down here…but not without enormous import fees.  It is sending down material and getting it cleared through customs as donated material without $30,000 worth of customs duties applied that is difficult, not to mention that we wanted to create a conduit so that we could send containers on a regular basis.  One time is easy…to set it up to be sustainable is way, way more difficult.  It took more than anyone else will ever know to get it set up by Sky, but I will always know and always be impressed how much the people you already love and admire can still amaze you.

Holly checking the pile earmarked for the Pandytown Centro de Salud

In a few months I will begin contacting the clinics again, finding out their needs and getting another request for DRI and container number 2…

Our staging area for the distribution to the clinics--thank you Gary and Donna for letting us use the tents!!!! Lifesavers!
Our aid station at the triathlon finish line

In the midst of all this, we still see patients, provided the medical service for the Bay Islands Triathalon (including the kayaks monitoring the swimmers during the first leg), and Dr. Holly—whose training

heading out...some swimmers were really struggling, and a few got lost and started to swim to Guatemala, but thankfully no one went under and didn't come back up

includes major scene accident management—provided 2 days of training for the Fire Department, following up the training provided by our volunteer Sirin last year.

Maintaining head control as Johel comes out

Dr. Holly showed the firemen a particular extrication trick—when you have a patient with suspected spinal injury from a car accident, you can extract the patient through the back window by lowering the front seat, sliding the board in through the back window and taking the patient straight out.  Since we have the use of Gary and Donna’s open jeep, we could simulate the extraction without having to smash a car’s back window.  We are nothing if not adaptable.

The weather is looking good for this weekend (pouring rain now)…high pressure pushing down, maybe keeping the low centers at bay over our projected route.  Loading the IV fluids tomorrow and the next day…Finish securing the boat for sea…provisioning….and a last good night’s sleep.

Then give me that horizon.

Photos of patients used with patients’ express permission.

Photos of unloading and interior boat construction (pretty much most of the nice-looking photos) courtesy of Dan Chomistek