Autumn 2005 Report

Machermo sunroomAnother eventful season has come to a close and we are now poised to move into the new facility built by CAN. We will have the hybrid wind and solar electrical system and plumbing in place for next season, meaning porters and doctors can move in!

Special thanks to all who donated money, especially our friends at the Himalayan Trust, the schools and sponsors. There is now a sign at Machermo (see photo) mentionning our supporters, and which will be updated annually. Thanks also to those whose time and effort moved the project on, in particular Namgyal Sherpa, Mahesh and Gobhinda of CAN, Ian Wall, the volunteer doctors and paramedics, and last but not least Chhewang Sherpa who keeps the wheels oiled and successfully ran the post for a week on his own this season!

BuildersApart from the locally quarried stone, the building material was helicoptered to Namche under the watchful eye of Namgyal and then by a two-day porter carry to Machermo.

We are now working on the  management agreement between all the parties involved in the project (KBZ, CAN, National Park, IPPG) and look forward to an official opening in 2006.

ChewangThis season, the post was staffed first by Dr Emma and Nick Mason (UK), then by Chhewang on his own, until Toby Savage  (physician’s assistant – USA) and Dr Andrew Booker (Australia) completed the season. The extracts below are from their reports. Over 150 sick or injured people where seen, some of them whose lives were saved.

Many people came to the lectures and bought patches, T-shirts, books, or donated money.

Jim Duff, International Coordinator

PATIENT STATS

Autumn 2005 Porters Locals Trekkers Guide/Staff/Other
TOTAL
Total Patients 74 17 45 9 145
AMS 4 0 14 0 18
HAPE 0 0 8 0 8
HACE 1 0 1 0 2
HAPE & HACE 1 0 1 0 2
Diarrhoea 2 1 8 0 11
Abdominal pain 3 1 1 1 4
Respiratory infection 45 8 5 7 57
Headache (only) 1 0 0 1 2
Musculoskeletal 1 2 2 0 5
Toothache 5 1 0 0 6
Eye problem 3 1 0 0 4
Other 8 3 5 0 8

 EXTRACTS FROM DR NICK AND EMMA MASON’S REPORT

nickemma chewang“It was impossible to know what would come through the door and the conditions seen ranged from the predictable acute mountain sickness, travellers’ diarrhoea, coughs, sore throats and colds, to rip roaring lobar pneumonias; pyomyositis and parotitis.

After lunch we would tour the lodges and campsites in the village to advertise the presence of the rescue post and the afternoon talks on altitude illness. Several hundred people turned up at the talks. Education is a central part of the work and is crucial to reducing the incidence of altitude related problems in the region. Once the new building is finished and with so many porters under one roof we will be able to provide mountain safety education to the porters including Altitude Illness, hypothermia and frostbite.

TalkWe treated a number of patients with severe high altitude pulmonary oedema who required helicopter evacuation. It was quite a challenge, for somebody used to the endless supplies of piped oxygen on his university hospital intensive care unit, to juggle the limited supplies of bottled oxygen, the short battery life of the oxygen concentrator and time in the Portable Altitude Chamber. Especially in patients whose oxygen saturation stubbornly refused to climb out of the mid-40s! (note: normal at sea level is 98-100, ed).

GopalGopal, a porter, was abandoned by his trekking group when he fell ill at Gokyo after carrying a load from Namche to re-supply a Swiss group that had trekked in via the less direct and more technical Renjo La. We do not know how and why he was left to walk back down from Gokyo on his own having passed the previous night struggling to breathe*. He was found semi-concious at the side of the trail by a group of British trekkers. Their Sherpa guide Furbar saved Gopal’s life by carrying him several kilometers to our Rescue Post on his back. When he got to us, Gopal was very sick with high altitude pulmonary oedema complicated by cerebral oedema and on a couple of occasions during the night we thought he might die as he failed to respond to treatment… fortunately trekkers’ donations payed for a helicopter rescue to Khunde Hospital the following morning where Gopal recovered rapidly. (Due to the expense it is uncommon for porters to be helicoptered out and it is down to the generosity of all those trekkers at Machermo that night, especially the Brits, who donated the money to make Gopal’s rescue possible, ed)”

Note: the full story of Gopal’s rescue will be appearing in the next newsletter (coming out feb 2006).

(*Frequently sick porters are paid off by the Nepalese leader or sirdar without the trekkers knowing. ed)

EXTRACTS FROM TOBY SAVAGE’S REPORT

Toby“… I did have one patient with a probable fractured hip that I had evacuated by helicopter, and another patient with HAPE that I would have kept and flown out, but he insisted on getting aboard a horse to ride down in the dark! (He was later seen still alive going in the appropriate direction!)

Andrew (Booker) and I spent the remainder of our time there without any real adventures, no helicopter evacuations, a few HAPEs, no HACE, and the rest minor ailments.

The lecture series went well, and were well attended on most days. One day the entire Everest Marathon team turned up and I gave the talk to the entire group, about 74 of them!….”

DOCTORS WANTED !

machermo porter shelter and rescue postWould you be interested in working as a volunteer at the Machermo rescue post?

Read more on the Machermo Porter Shelter and Rescue Post project.

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