In a town not too far from Kitchanga, a minivan packed with passengers was fired upon by armed men in the early hours of Saturday morning . By the time people came to ask for our help, the community had carried the injured to a nearby health centre. We were informed that there were 5 gunshot injuries.
Our office became a frenzied hub of activity as we threw our emergency equipment into the ambulance and drove towards the health centre. We drove past the empty minivan. There was glass everywhere. The crowd pointed us in the direction of the health centre.
The nurses at the health centre had done the best they could with the patients. There was a lady who had been travelling with her two little children. She had been shot in her chest. She was lucky as the bullet had lodged in muscle and did not hit lung. The next gentleman was not so lucky. He had been shot in both shins. He had several fractures and there was a pool of blood on the floor despite the tourniquets that the nurses had applied. He was conscious but we could barely feel his pulse or get a blood pressure reading. The three other patients had relatively superficial injuries.
All five patients were placed into two of our ambulances. Radio contact was made with another MSF team at Mweso hospital and their emergency plan for mass casualties was activated. It was a least an hour’s drive over bumpy roads. I cringed when the patients cried out as we navigated the potholes.I was much relieved when we were greeted by friendly professional faces. The two most serious casualties were whisked into surgery within minutes of our arrival.
After the patients were finally stabilized, I drank a cold Fanta and headed back to Kitchanga, sending silent back-pats to each and everyone who helped along the way. I was happiest when I finally relaxed in Claudio’s gigantic hug.
News from the hospital is that the lady has a haemothorax but is stable, the gentleman with the broken legs survived the operation but is being kept under close observation.