I would like to shed light on these last few months and what we have experienced in N’Djamena, the capital city of Chad, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a team on the ground providing medical support, we quickly realised that the situation could become dramatic in a landlocked country like Chad.
We got used to taking care of patients with COVID-19, alongside responding to a range of other medical emergencies including cardiac arrests. Some of the other medical cases that we would usually see on a daily basis would include serious cases of malaria, diabetes, traumatology, strokes, dehydration linked to gastric infection, pulmonary embolism, and pediatric emergencies.
Here are some of the many experiences and scenarios that I witnessed which left a lasting impact:
- Being faced with the decision to intubate and save a patient suffering from COVID-19 as he was suffering from respiratory distress.
- Transporting patients under 45 degrees Celsius in full PPE so that they undertake a medical scan as part of the diagnosis.
- Learning how to prepare and handle drug anaesthesia, adjusting parameters on the ventilator, and practicing gasometry for the first time on patients who needed it – without ever failing.
- Waking up at 6 A.M. on a Sunday morning to find oxygen cylinders in a country where local hospitals were short in supply.
- Staying at the gates of the Renaissance hospital with an intubated and ventilated patient for almost two hours making sure that he stays alive.
This team of doctors, nurses, cleaners, drivers, laboratory technicians, radiology technicians, pharmacists, receptionists, logisticians, and IT administrators have done a tremendous job. They were always on hand to respond, day or night, weekdays or weekends, and I would like to personally tribute this story to them.
I can safely say that this amazing team has never counted its hours and worked ever so diligently to ensure that International SOS in Chad can continue to take care of its customers and patients, even in the most extreme and difficult conditions.