Mission Trip to Kenya, 2012 – CPR & FIRST AID

I recently got back from a 2 week mission trip to Kipkaren Kenya. As I have said before traveling is a true passion of mine. It stared young when my parents took us to Australia to get my first taste of life outside the States. Since then I have been quite a few places, the only continent I haven’t hit is Antarctica and believe me I’m looking in to how to get there one day. I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Tanzania, a few more in South Africa and about a week in Egypt, all during college study abroad programs. So I have experienced a few very different areas in Africa, but only as a tourist. I remember thinking how I felt almost cheated by not getting to see the real people beyond my safari tour guides, who lived and worked on this huge continent. Well this January I was able to travel 20 hrs. flying time to Kenya. Only this time I wasn’t going to be escorted around and hanging out with all the other European and American tourists, I was going with a group of 6 other individuals to teach Kenyans in Kipkaren a little about farming (farming passion), and a little about medical care (EMT passion). We had a diverse group going, some of us with agricultural backgrounds, some medical, some with a passion for helping anywhere they could, some who have fed the hungry here in the US and others who were just looking for a way to serve God overseas. The trip was incredible to say the least and although I wish I could bore you with a 10 page blog about all of it, I’m going to focus just two blogs on this whole trip. This one will be about the CPR and First Aid training class, and the next will focus on our farming classes. We did write a blog while we were there and you can find that at, www.salemsekenya.blogspot.com.

The roads in Kenya leave much to be desired. I am not kidding when I say that I wouldn’t drive my 4wheeler down some of these roads let alone a vehicle, or more importantly an ambulance. Not only are the roads treacherous, they are also very dangerous. Cars swerving in and out of traffic, passing, honking, squeezing in where ever they could fit while a semi-truck going the other direction comes at them with great speed and bad brakes. At one point on our way to Nairobi we were put on a gravel detour road, it was really dusty and had a lot of corners you couldn’t see around; of course though our Kenyan driver wasn’t to be deterred by this, he was still passing like crazy at every slow vehicle that got in our way. So someone had the nerve to ask if this was a 2way detour, “No” he replied with ease, “1 way I’m sure!” 2 minutes later after passing a semi on a particularly blind corner, a fuel truck came barreling by going the other direction. We all looked at each other wide eyed, “Well I guess it’s a 2 way detour.” Our driver replies nonchalantly. We were all peeing our pants! This, my friends, is Africa.

I start off with that introduction to let you know that the infrastructure throughout Kenya is very poor. So getting supplies, people, or anything anywhere seems to be much more challenging than anything we are used to here in the states. For instance if you were to get injured in rural Kenya you can do 1 of 2 things:
1. Call 222, equivalent of 911.
2. Make an audible noise followed by a brief description of the incident and it will be passed along from village to village. Ex: WOO WOO, dog bite, WOO WOO dog bite.

If you were to choose the first option be ready to wait not minutes, hours if you’re lucky, but most likely a few days for an ambulance to get to you. I’m not sure if this entails planning ahead to do dangerous activities and calling days before you even begin or not, but I don’t think that it’s an option that is used very often. If you decide on the second option, surprisingly enough within a few hours you’re likely to get some kind of help your way. It won’t be an ambulance, more likely a matatu (bus taxi) or a piki piki (motorcycle taxi) that is coming to take you to the nearest hospital probably hours away. Neither choice would be my first, but this is what they are faced with, and in the end makes for many deaths that could have been stopped, many with simple first aid to keep them alive until they can get to a hospital.

One of the first things that really struck me was the mentality that because they weren’t doctors, they couldn’t help anyone. They have this feeling like they are not worthy to do anything, they just have to pick up and get someone to a doctor as fast as they can, or in the worst case do nothing. And as you can already see, fast isn’t fast in Africa when it comes to medical care. So our first objective was letting them know that they can help! That small things such as stopping bleeding from wounds, or opening someone’s airway, and general assessment of what is going on with someone who may be having an emergency, and what to do next. We taught the Heimlich maneuver, CPR, and many of the concepts that anyone here would learn when taking a first aid course.

We also covered some things that wouldn’t be covered in a First Aid course here in the U.S. I was lucky to have another teacher there with me who used to work with the Red Cross and has gone and taught this class 3 times in Kipkaren. Since she has been over there a few times and in this particular area she was more prepared to cover other topics that she knew challenged the people in Kenya and may not be covered in traditional

Blue Jean Cot

classes. For example Kenya has the 2 most deadly snakes in the world, and they are all over the place. They also have many deadly spiders. It’s to the point that they don’t even distinguish good and bad snakes or spiders, they just consider them all bad and kill every single one they see. There is no running away from them screaming, unless you’re running to grab a stone to kill it with! This is not something that I got to experience (THANK GOODNESS!!! I’m a wuss when it comes to both snakes and spiders!) We also talked about how to boil water to make it safe for drinking. Simple concepts such as not using the same pot that you used to get the water from the river as the pot to store your clean water, unless you also sterilize the pot. Things that we take for granted, such as clean water, there can mean healthy or sick, life or death.

Slings out of Scarves

I don’t want to make them out to be “dumb” about things, they just truly have never been taught such simple skills. Things that we might see in a movie even, such as stopping the bleeding of a wound with pressure and bandages. I have to admit though that one of my favorite parts of the class was teaching them how to brace, bandage, and transport patients. We made cots out of large sticks and blue jeans, braces using scarves, and tourniquets with pens and string. They were very creative!

To finish up I would like to share two stories with you. One is about one of the girls named Concepta who was a student at the training center. She took our first aid CPR class and was one of my favorite students. A week or so after we left Concepta collapsed while at

Concepta at Graduation

the training center. Her fellow classmates, who had also gone through the training, made a cot and quickly took her down the road to the clinic. It turned out that she had typhoid and they were able to treat here there at the clinic and she is now recovering. I wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t thought to take her there, if they had called for an ambulance and waited days, while she would have probably died. I know this sounds extreme, but this is what is their reality. It seems like such a miracle that we were able to be there, teach, and then see how helpful this could be.

The second story is about another student. He came up to me at the end of class. He told me a story about how last year he was following his friend on the highway and his friend’s car hit another. It was a bad accident and by the time he got up to his friend a whole crowd was gathering around. His friend was lying on the ground, bleeding to death. With all those people standing around, he included, not one person knew what to do. They were scared to move him, they were scared to touch him, and they were scared to do anything. So they did nothing and his friend died right there in front of him. He shook my hand and said, “I want to thank you, because you have taught me that next time I can help someone, and I can make a difference, I will know what to do.” I can’t tell you how much that tore at my heart, first of all to see what kind of pain these people go through every day, every year as they live their lives, but also how much hope they have that they can take that experience and now say to themselves that they are empowered and can move forward.

Wild Goose Chasing…Is it working?

I have run for a lot of reasons in my life. I ran after the gypsy that robbed me in Spain. I ran a marathon. I ran through Los Angeles Airport dressed like a chicken. I ran to catch many a train. I ran to catch a ship bound for Tanzania. I ran when I felt sad, happy, anxious, excited, bored, tired and energetic. I ran to get in shape, to feel good, to get something off my mind. Really the reasons I run are fairly endless, however the most recent running experience I’ve had probably proves to be the most silly. I ran while on a very literal wild goose chase!

It was a nice day a few weeks ago and I was out driving around looking at a few fields. We have a particularly interesting situation here in Oregon, when the, as we like to refer to them Canadian Air Force (aka Canadian Geese) come into town they can wreak havoc on your crops. They eat like a buffet across all that you’ve worked so hard to get into the ground and get growing. This was a particularly large gaggle around 2,000, munching down and cackling away on the other side of a 50 acre field. After spotting them I reached back for my gun, as any self-respecting country girl would do, to find that I had forgotten it at home. I looked around some more hoping to find something to get these geese off my crop, unfortunately all I found was two arms I found and 6 legs (mine and my dog Yukon’s). I jumped out of my rig and set off across the field.

Now to give you a description of the best techniques for scaring geese with only your dog and yourself, I would say it looks quite ridiculous. It involves arms flying in the air like a crazy person, yelling at the top of your lungs anything you can think of, running as fast as you can over uneven grass stubble, and yes of course tripping along the way. To add to how funny this must look, my companion Yukon is not the best at this activity. He had a run in a few years back the first time we went to scare geese. He took off at Mach 5 right toward the geese. All it took was 6 of them to turn around, start squawking and flapping their wings for him to turn tail and run back into the bed of my pick-up, with this look like, “holy cow those things look mean!” So now he does more barking at me and as I imagine he’s saying, “You’re so CRAZY mom, those things are really dangerous…GET BACK IN THE PICK-UP!!” But I keep running…they must leave! As I get closer they are getting more and more nervous, I’m getting more and more winded, praying for them to just freaking leave already!!! And then the moment comes, a few pop their heads up and decide they have had enough. Off they go with the greatest of ease and in a very loud exit they are off to the next field. Although they don’t really make it to the next field, they just go to another corner of mine…Now I am truly on a wild goose chase. And we’re off again, Yukon barking, me yelling and yes doing quite a bit of laughing praying no neighbors drive by. I finally did get them to leave that day, only after they left me a wonderful surprise by crapping on my pick-up the green digested grass that I was hoping would stay in the ground. Life is so ironic at times!

A Good day of Hunting

Fighting with geese has become an interesting problem in the Willamette Valley.  How do you find a good way to keep them off your ground and from eating your crop? We do a lot of hazing and I think that is fairly effective, but the problem becomes when you miss one day and they graze 20 acres of clover in that one time you were out of town, or had other things on your list and just didn’t get to it. To haze we use what we call goose crackers. They are like an M80 that is in a shotgun shell cartridge. When you shoot them they fly into the air before exploding, so that you can get particularly close to the geese with the loud noise. We are licensed in the state the carry these shells and use them, so when we went to buy more this past year we were frustrated to find out that now not only do you need to be licensed in the state, you also need a federal permit. Just another hoop to jump through that is added on to the most effective tool that we have out there. I know many farmers who just gave up because the process to get federally licensed was so tedious. I did go through the process and am waiting to hear if I get approved or not. It took quite a bit of work, including getting finger printed and filling out pages and pages of application.  I think the worst part was realizing that while we’re struggling on our farms to protect our crops, government is making it more difficult to legally help with the problem.  They don’t want their protected birds to be killed, and I don’t want them on my crops, so let me do what is right and haze without all the hoops and frustration!  Hopefully we’ll be able to have that tool back as a way to help take care of our crops, if not , it looks like I’ll be spending more time goose hunting than farming in the years to come.

Flying with Turkeys….

I remember back in High School we were sitting in ag class watching a movie about farmer “Gotta Go” Joe.  It was a safety video about how this farmer was always on the go and always going too fast.  I think he even got his arm cut off at one point, although it was a cartoon so not nearly as gross as that sounds.  Sometimes I think back to that video and realize that for as much as we made fun of a laughed at Gotta Go Joe, I know that many days I become that farmer.  I’m a very clumsy person by nature so when I speed up those clumsy legs and arms, usually it just ends with my dad looking at me and laughing.

On our operation I’m in charge of the spraying.  And if you’ve never been a sprayer operator you may not realize the angst that comes along with trying to find that perfect condition of day to get your chemicals on.  There are chemicals that have to be sprayed in the rain, sprayed right before a rain, 1 hr before a rain, need hours to dry before a rain, right before only a quarter-inch of rain…the list goes on!  And I never realized before having this responsibility how frustrating it could be to find that perfect condition.

So I’m outside looking up at the sky, I’m back inside looking at the Doppler radar looking for clouds, back outside, calling the neighbors across the prairie…I’m driving myself crazy with situations in my head of what to do.  Finally the decision is made, I need one hour to get the spray on, one hour of dry time, and the clouds are looking like they will dump a small quarter or so inch of rain in just a few short hours…it’s GO TIME!  But because of this I have to hit Gotta Go Joe speed in order to hit this window…I’m off!!

First thing is bring the sprayer around, I trip on the steps scraping my knee.  Brush off and keep going, I tell myself.  While the computer warms up for my GPS; I’m outside again, jumping onto the truck to mix the chemical at warp speed.  The gallons are climbing, I’m stressing, the clouds are encroaching.  The tank is mixed and still in fast time, I jump off the truck, hit the large fill hose and twist my ankle.  AHHH…shake it off, I only have a few precious minutes!  I make it out to the field in record time, flush the booms to get the chemical to the nozzles.  I have to jump down again, forgetting my recently twisted ankle and wince in pain, could have done that a little more gingerly, but I’m still behind, the clouds are still coming!  Then for the final straw as I’m getting back up from unplugging a few nozzles the pocket of my jeans reaches out and grabs the latch for the door, I hear a RRRRRIIIIPPPPPPP and feel cold seat on my bare bum, I have just ripped my pants completely open.

So I spray out the tank bare  bummed.  I look around as I drive into the home place…no one is there to see me limping into my house, holding my pants closed in the rear laughing hysterically at what I must look like, while the rain starts to come out of the sky, 45 minutes early.  In the end I learned a good lesson…even if you only have a small perfect window, slow down so you don’t kill yourself in the process of getting things done!  And no matter how “perfect” the window, the rain still comes when it wants!!!  Gotta Go Joe, with a new pair of pants and ice on her ankle is ready for another “perfect” spraying day!  And as my grandpa would say, “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re flying with turkeys!”

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