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God orchestrates life-saving flights through MAF and its partners

MAF Haiti usually doesn’t fly on Sunday unless it’s a life-threatening situation. This time, two lives hung in the balance: a woman in critical condition following a stroke, and a young boy with a high fever and shakes. HERO, a medical organization, called MAF’s after-hours phone number requesting Sunday medical evacuations from Cap Haitian to Port-au-Prince.

A number of “coincidences” happened to line up that day so the patients could receive the urgent care they needed:

  • Because it wasn’t known if the boy was contagious, two airplanes were needed so the stroke patient would not be exposed to the unknown illness.
  • Two airplanes had just enough flight time available to make the flights before they would have to come off the line for an inspection.
  • These two airplanes were scheduled for flights of the same length on Monday, so they were already fueled and ready to go.
  • One had a flat tire repaired on Saturday, instead of Monday, because a pilot decided to take care of it when he stopped by the hangar to work on a few things.
  • HERO sent two paramedics on each airplane so they could attend to each patient during their flight.

That last bullet point turned out to be extremely important, as the pilots realized when they landed in Cap Haitian. “It was immediately apparent that the stroke victim was not doing well,” said Dan Wanvig, one of the MAF pilots that day. “It was an all-hands-on-deck situation to get her stabilized and intubated in preparation for the flight.”

Because there were four paramedics, three of them were able to work on the stroke victim, while the fourth tended to the boy.

“I don’t know how they would have managed with any fewer paramedics,” Dan said.

So two medical evacuations at the same location, on the same day, plus four paramedics, and two MAF pilots and aircraft that were available on a Sunday adds up to one big God who was overseeing all the details.

Both patients were safely delivered to Port-au-Prince, where they were loaded into an ambulance and whisked away to the hospital.

HERO paramedics stabilize a stroke patient prior to an MAF flight in Haiti. Photo courtesy of Dan Wanvig.


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