Twice the Mission
WHEN it comes to saving lives, there are no small missions. In fact, sometimes, the smaller the patient, the greater the impact. This was twice as true on a recent mission when our Haiti Air Ambulance crew saved two prematurely born babies.
The twins were just 30 weeks in utero when they were born. Early in the morning of June 30, 2016, the babies were found on the doorstep of Haiti Health Ministries in Gressier, a rural coastal town more than an hour by car from Port-au-Prince. Doctors there were able to stabilize the children though there was no contact with the parents or any family, making it impossible to develop a medical history. Within a few hours, the boy, less than 2.5lbs, and his sister, just under 2lbs, were secure. But neonatal intensive care to keep body temperature, airways and blood sugar levels balanced would mean the difference between life and death. Transfer to a facility with this capability was vital.
Pilot Phil Newson, medical director Dr. Jerry Chandler, paramedic Stacy Fiscus and flight EMT Jacquelin Petit lifted off from the Haiti Air Ambulance base in Port-au-Prince just after 10am. By noon, they had retrieved the infant patients from Haiti Health Ministries, safely installed them into continued care at St. Boniface Hospital in Fonds des Blancs (nearly 3 hours by car from Port-au-Prince) and returned to the HAA base to prepare for their next mission.
The lifesaving work HAA does every day changes from mission to mission, but this particular flight marked the third in three weeks for paramedic Stacy Fiscus in which she handled neonatal care successfully. Fiscus said, “Neonates require completely different equipment and training than any other type of patient. In the United States, there are dedicated neonatal transport teams that operate with a very different skill set, set-up of equipment and years of specialized training in order to treat and transport premature babies of this size…[this mission] is indicative of one of the reasons I came to Haiti. Rapid transport via air to an NICU where the babies could be placed in isolettes and treated by specialized nurses was essential to the twins’ survival.”
Fiscus is a distinguished paramedic. She began her career in Indiana ten years ago and has been a flight paramedic since 2009. Presently, she is chief flight paramedic at HAA, where she has been employed for nearly two years. Prior to joining the HAA team full-time, Fiscus got involved as a volunteer but “the young Haitian men working for HAA and learning their roles in the flight world stole my heart. They are some of the most dedicated, kind and energetic employees I know. And I wanted to be a part of that…making a difference in peoples’ lives.”
Part of the unique international scope of HAA’s endeavors is our passionate network. In the case of this mission, Fiscus was able to call on the support of friends and colleagues in the United States who focus on neonatal care. “I learned from these three flights to use all available resources, to include discussing treatment options with friends who work for neonatal teams prior to picking up the patients. I was also able to communicate with HAA nurse Dawn Handlin who worked for a pediatric and neonatal transport team early in her career to get some advice prior to lift-off.”
Haiti Air Ambulance launched in 2014 and instantly became integrated into Haiti’s health care infrastructure. We are proud to provide the best care possible to the country’s citizens and visitors, regardless of where they may be at their time of need. Our efforts extend from land to sky to land to advance Haiti’s development by ensuring the highest level of medical attention is available throughout the country. Each day, our successful patient transports advance our mission, as well as our network of international partners at all levels of the medical system.
To find out more about joining our team or working with Haiti Air Ambulance as a receiving and/or sending facility, please email our director of operations, firstname.lastname@example.org, to start the conversation today!