Election Day is not the easiest for flying out of Kathmandu, all roads are closed. But if you find yourself needing to get around on said day, apparently a scooter ride under the cover of early morning darkness is the way to go! Peter managed to catch his flight to Lukla, and after his smoothest landing yet (Lukla is considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world), he then caught his requisite cappuccino and cinnamon roll before attempting to hitch a ride towards Phortse on outbound helicopters. With a happy belly and low expectations, he stuck his proverbial thumb out in front of a couple of helos, hoping to avoid a two day walk in. Shockingly he got waved in and off he went. Where he was going, he wasn’t quite sure, but it seemed to be in the direction of Phortse.
However, they began to repeatedly circle in a tight valley, which Peter recognized from his experience as a flight nurse that they were doing recognizance for a landing zone. As they worked lower, he noticed a small, dusty yak pasture where a group of four were huddled. He quickly realized looking at one of them that he was actually on a medical evacuation flight. “As I exited the helicopter I had the thought that I should examine and assist the patient, but then went back to the tenants of my flight training…rapid evacuation can be more valuable than anything…especially given my limited supplies and that flying directly to Katmandu would only take one hour to get to definitive care.”
The helicopter took off showering him in dirt and yak dung. It was then he realized how thankful he was to have brought a map of the area. After dusting himself off and orienting, he walked the remaining four hours to the peaceful, small village of Phortse. In Phortse, he was greeted by my many Sherpa coworkers and friends and treated to their incredible kindness and hospitality. After a hot dinner of Sherpa Stew with our Assistant Instructor and Climbing Sherpa, Phunuru Sherpa, Peter fell sound asleep in his comfortable home for a much needed sleep.
The WFA began yesterday full of excitement, and thankfully less drama. Day One is focused on patient assessment, one of the most important skills a first responder can have and perform. It’s not easy, despite how simple it may look in you manual, it takes a lot of practice to hone one’s competence. Fortunately, that is just what the WFR students will be receiving over the next two days: practice, and knew skills and knowledge all building on that assessment foundation.