Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Medevac Pack

Like a good boy scout, a good missionary should be prepared. They call Papua New Guinea the “Land of the Unexpected,” and so it’s hard to prepare for everything. But this morning I decided that our family needed to be prepared for a medical emergency.

“Medevac” is a common word in our vocabulary here in PNG. It’s short for “medical evacuation.” Medevacs are actually fairly common. Our clinic in Ukarumpa really is wonderful, and we get great service here. But they are not equipped to handle major medical issues, and unfortunately neither are many of the hospitals in country. In short, any medical situation that would require a trip to the emergency room would qualify for a medevac. It’s just that our nearest emergency room is in Australia!

A medevac can cost anywhere from $20,000- $70,000… yikes! (That’s why we have medevac insurance!). If insurance is paying, their procedures must be followed to the letter. You are allowed to take one person with you, and only one. No exceptions. That means that if Greg was sick or injured, either Brian or I could go with him, but not both. It also means that Brian and I have needed to talk about who we would leave Greg with if the situation required that both of us needed to go. It makes me nervous as a mom to think of leaving my baby behind while I go to another country!

I’ve always intended to put together a little kit of essentials in case we ever need to pack and leave in a hurry, but have never gotten around to it. But there were two medevacs last week, and I decided that I really needed to get it done. So this morning I compiled my “medevac pack.”

What’s in it, you ask?

- Basic toiletries in airline-approved sizes

- Lists of important personal, medical and insurance information

- List of personal contacts

- Cash, both Australian dollars and PNG Kina

- Financial information (I can never remember my ATM PIN number, and Brian can never remember the passwords for our online banking, so I figured we should have it written down!)

- An itemized list for each family member of other things to pack and where they are located: clothing, medications, diapers, etc – so that if Brian and I (or someone else in the case that we aren’t able to do it ourselves) can get the essentials together quickly.

We have heard the stories of others who weren’t prepared, and when the time came to leave, they were understandably under a lot of stress, and they found the simple task of packing a bag very difficult, or they got to Australia and realized that they had forgotten important things. Hopefully the list will make it easy in an emergency to gather the things we need. And here’s hoping that we never have to use it!

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