Emma in the Mountains
My name is Emma and I am a third year student paramedic at Griffith University. I recently had the opportunity to travel to Nepal with a team of other paramedic students to improve the healthcare in remote areas of the country following the 2015 earthquake. My interest in remote healthcare began when The Wild Medic Project presented at our university last year. I applied for the January 2019 Nepal trip online and was soon overjoyed that I was chosen to be a part of the team. We landed in Kathmandu and were treated to a tour of the city before teaching first aid at a Kathmandu school. After this we headed out to a remote village four hours by car from Kathmandu.
Our lovely crew of local guides set up our tents with an amazing view of snow-capped mountains while we prepared for our next two days of clinic work. The next day we opened the clinic at the local school buildings. We assessed our patients’ vital signs and gathered a past and present medical history before handing our findings to the Nepali doctor from Kathmandu who was working with us. The doctor prescribed medications and we headed to the next room where the medications were set out on a table. The clinic was a great opportunity for me to practice the fundamental skills I have learnt at university- such as taking a manual blood pressure when we didn’t have the luxury of a machine to do it for us. We saw in excess of 140 patients over our two clinic days, whose reason for attending ranged from a simple check-up to a lady who had knocked a kerosene lamp into her leg with significant burns, gastritis, arthritis, infected wounds and a possible pulmonary embolus.
The trip wasn’t all work, however. The next day we were taken on an adventurous hike around the hills of the village and were treated to a cup of tea around a fire in a school teacher’s traditional house. We spent the following day with the school students, teaching them basic first aid, hand hygiene and distributing reusable menstrual kits to the school girls (on behalf of Days for Girls). On our departure from the village we left the school with soap and a basic first aid kit. Our team also donated funds we had raised which will be used by the village to build a new school after it was destroyed by the earthquake in 2015.
We then began trekking home. Our local guides led us on a three-day trek from Narkagot to Dhulikhel and then on to Namobuddha. We learnt that ‘Nepali flat’ is a lot different to the Australian definition of flat and that every religious monument worth visiting is at the top of the ‘Nepali flat’ hill. Throughout the trek we saw amazing views of 8000 meter tall snow-capped peaks, but a highlight was the amazing Buddhist monastery in Namobuddha where we had the privilege of watching the traditional chanting by the monks. This phase of the trip allows us to experience the ‘real’ Nepal while also contributing to the local tourism business.
My trip to Nepal with The Wild Medic Project was an amazing opportunity which I would highly recommend. Throughout the trip I gained unsurpassable experience which has greatly improved my clinical practice, while also making a significant impact on the people of Nepal.
Author: Emma Day