Why Sarawak’s emergency airlift service matters

By Pak Bui

cut footJau, a 19 year old Penan man from a remote village, was chopping open a coconut one day, using his foot to steady the coconut. Jau’s foot slipped and he suffered a cut on his left foot.

The wound was small and shallow, but painful. James bound it to stop the bleeding, and bore the pain, as the stoic Penan usually do. He went on farming and hunting. Hunting is Jau’s greatest love, as well as his means of making a living.

Two days later he noticed his wound had become infected. Jau walked five hours to the nearest government clinic. The medical assistant there gave him some painkillers and penicillin tablets, saying he had no other antibiotics.

After five days of taking the antibiotics religiously, Jau’s foot had swollen to an enormous size. Moving his toes caused exquisite pain. Jau was unable to walk back to the clinic. He had to wait for a local timber company truck to pass through his village, but none had come that way for two weeks.

3dc78b1e7ec5aee91c867b4603e5e1beVillagers asked for assistance from timber company drivers at the main company access road. None of the drivers was willing to drive to Jau’s village to pick him up.

Jau was shaking with fever and struggling to sit up, when a couple, traveling around on holiday, turned up at Jau’s village in a hired pick-up truck.

The visitors were horrified at Jau’s condition. They loaded Jau onto the back seat of their truck, and drove him to the nearest airstrip, forty minutes away by dirt track. They put him on a plane to the nearest hospital. His foot survived, and so did Jau.

Read more at: http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/why-sarawak%E2%80%99s-emergency-airlift-service-matters/