We received a call from obstetrician Grace at Alotau Hospital to say there was a P6G7 mother at Esa’ala in obstructed labor with hand presentation and could we assist it was 1.39pm. Mother and baby were ok at this stage. Her contractions were stopped with 8mg oral salbutamol.
Hand presentation is an emergency more so for the baby at this early stage. We wasted no time in getting ready and had wheels up in 20 minutes heading for Esa’ala on Normanby island. Thats a 22 minute flight ending with a water landing in front of the health centre.
Esa’ala HC is a pretty health facility situated by the sea with a white beach lined with rainforest trees out the front. The beach is accessible by a marked passage through the fringing reef. If the tide is half way in, the Beaver can taxi right up to the HC as the beach is steep. The bottom is sand and sea grass so perfect for a float plane.
We crossed the Owen Stanleys at 3000’and tracked directly to Esa’ala HC 22 minutes later we were touched down in smooth waters with no discernible wind. We taxied towards the reef marker in front of the HC keeping the marker on our starboard side. We rounded the marker and taxied in, cut the engine and drifted into the beach.
A crowd of onlookers were already assembled under the trees on the beach… Sister came out to greet us, we quickly moved into the labor room and prepared the mother for the trip. Baby’s heart was still ticking and there was movement.
A group of helpers assisted us carrying the mother to the Beaver which was floating on the incoming tide. We wasted no time in getting under way. The guardian husband occupied the co-pilot seat with Sr.Kila caring for the mother in the cabin. We took off into a 5 knot headwind, executed a right turn and headed for Esa’ala Gap. We cleared the terrain at 1300’ and headed direct for Gurney.
25 miles out we hear the RAAF transport aircraft give a call on 124.1 to say they would be arriving at Gurney at 3.11pm. our ETA was 3.21pm. We climbed to 3300’ to clear the Owen Stanley’s then descended and made a straight in approach to run way 27.
We touched down and quickly taxied to the hangar. The RAAF crew waved as we passed their aircraft. The ambulance was waiting for our arrival. A quick transfer and Kila escorted the mother into hospital. Our mother underwent an emergency caesar. She had a baby boy and both are well.
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