Helicopter to the rescue

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Foailalo team led by RN Faalaa with Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea and Dr. Malama Tafuna’i.

Foailalo team led by RN Faalaa with Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea and Dr. Malama Tafuna’i.

The Foailalo hospital in Savai’i has become the first hospital to use the Samoa helicopter service to transport a critically unwell child to the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital at Moto’otua.

During the visit around Savai’i by Professor Crampton and the Otago delegation on Thursday, they stopped at the Foailalo hospital for a rural hospital visit to find a critically unwell child needing urgent intervention. 

Leituala Dr. Ben Matavalea, Clinical Director of the National Health Service, who was taking the Otago delegation around Savai’i, was able to mobilise the Samoa helicopter service.

After he and Dr. Malama Tafunai of the Faculty of Medicine, N.U.S, stabilized the child, she was airlifted to the National Health Service where the I.C.U team with Dr. Lamour Hansell received the child and continued treatment.

Rodger McCutcheon of Samoa Helicopters said he is delighted they have been able to help.

“The little girl, her mum and a nurse were flown directly to N.H.S in Apia and was stabilized in intensive care,” he said.

The helicopter at Foailalo.
The helicopter at Foailalo.

“The little girl was passing in and out of consciousness in the helicopter as her condition worsened, it's unlikely she would have survived the road and ferry trip as she needed urgent critical care.”

As chief crewman, Mr. McCutcheon said they responded immediately to the call.

“We were airborne within minutes and landed right at the medical center in Savai’i...where after a medical briefing by Ben and the team, I boarded the still running helicopter for the 20 minute flight direct to Apia hospital.

“I think it’s safe to say the helicopter’s speed has contributed to saving this gorgeous little girls life.”

As for Professor Crampton and his team, they were able to see first hand some of the difficulties with primary and rural health care in Samoa.

The Foailalo rural hospital team led by Faalaa, were grateful for the team’s visit and look forward to more medical support in rural health centres.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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