I post this about a drama for me and the Wewak team. The Pryors are a very thankful family for the help we provide for their family and ministry.
Jesse Pryor is a second generation missionary in PNG. They have built a clinic and many times we have helped MEDEVAC seriously ill patients.
Yesterday I received a request to MEDEVAC Jesse’s son out of Samban. It was one of the most difficult and complex decision making tasks I have undertaken. But, we did our utmost to help.
It was late. I was already flying a MEDEVAC from Edwaki to Wewak, a man with a broken leg lying down in the plane in considerable pain. The Caravan was over half full and heavy. Yet, the task was to divert for an hour late in the day. Land in Samban. Pick up the family of four, three of which are large. Think about the weight and tail-wind for takeoff. Factor in a draggy surface penalty and recent rain. How low was the fuel? What reserves did I have? How close to last light? Could the man with the broken leg manage another hour on the plane?
On the surface, it seems I would not be ticking many boxes so I declined. After a rethink, I found I could tick all the boxes if I diverted directly to Samban, not via Wewak. Jacob (base agent) was invaluable acting as an intermediary between myself on the radio and the very concerned father.
So, we lifted 10 people out of Samban, one a small baby. The GA8 struggles to lift just two out of here. The Caravan with a four-knot tailwind became airborne half way along the strip passing 200 ft over the fence.
It was such a gratifying performance. It made me realise how fantastic this plane is and to thank God for His wonderful provision for the SEPIK. As I engaged the autopilot and looked back at the load, I felt a pang, a tear-jerking sensation. I experienced a real community feeling on board. Elijah, their son with a burst appendix, was throwing up in a bag comforted by his big sister. Another woman was attending to the man with a broken leg which was badly swollen. Katie, Jesse’s wife, was showing another lady their newly adopted PNG baby. I shared what was left of my lunch and passed around water, and gave painkillers to the stretcher patient.
I want to share this with you because this plane makes a real difference to people’s lives. The Prior family needed us for their own family this time. We were able to help in the most difficult of circumstances. Not many planes would have fuel for an hour diversion or the capacity to lift this load out of a marginal airstrip.
When the plane landed at Wewak, it was near dark due to the overcast. When I got home it was dark. I got a call from NTM to work on how to switch the runway’s light on. NTM were on standby for a MEDEVAC. In the end, EMS from POM was called to MEDEVAC the Prior family to Australia.
This week I have done a MEDEVAC every day. Despite the difficult times we are all living, the mission community here is pulling together!