Here is a photo of Carlos, one of the two Ambulance nurses, (Chris is the other nurse, not in this picture), and myself standing beside the only functional Ambulance of a fleet of three. As it turns out the only functional ambulance, (none have oxygen cyclinders), is the Ambulance donated through the Rotary clubs of South Australia’s “Safe Motherhood Program”, the one that Sally was involved in. The other Toyota Troopie “ambulance” is non-functional as a stretcher vehicle, (it is also non operational as it has to go to Dili for mechanical repairs). It is only able to carry seated patients and has absolutely no equipment in it. We have another vehicle that looks a lot like the typical ambulance that most of us can relate to. But don’t let looks deceive you; there is absolutely nothing inside it and it has been broken down and has not been used since September last year. It was a Korean government donation and a make/model no one has ever heard of. It is basically useless because they are unable to get parts for it.
But apart from a lack of a real Ambulance, (for the 90,000 people in the district), or at least, one that can provide oxygen to a patient and carries a first aid kit as a bare minimum, we (senor Chris and myself) have made some progress. We cleaned the interior of the functional vehicle, removing out-of-date and contaminated IV cannulas, fluids and giving sets which were stored with the spare tyre and jacking equipment for the vehicle; we have made up some interim IV kits and protective containers; we have produced a patient health care form for medical documentation for recording clinical observations; and we have begun the ground work for an inservice education program for the Ambulance nurses. Somewhere down the track we may even get a decent ambulance fom the Ministerio da Saude.
We are desperately lacking in equipment and the training has yet to be commenced but on the positive side there is certainly no lack of interest and a desire to improve the present situation on the part of the nurses, the medical staff and myself.