“In a rural setting such as Atiak, having an ambulance on-site gives us the ability to transport to the hospital in an emergent way when necessary and helps to saves lives. Last week we had two emergency transports, both mothers and babies are healthy and safe.
I will tell the story of one of the situations where a quick transport to the hospital was crucial. The mother arrived at the birth center at about 5 pm, labor was strong and regular. This was her 6th pregnancy. On palpation the head was still high up in her pelvis, and ballotable. She was measuring 43 cm, was 5 cm dilated and all vitals within normal limits. In the back of my mind I was alert to the risks of membranes rupturing with the head so high. At 10:00 pm, I palpated and it seemed as if the head had come down a bit but was still a bit concerned about her membranes rupturing with space above the babies head. At 12:00 am, her membranes ruptured, fluids clear and fetal heart tones strong. I did a vaginal assessment and at first I felt a wee hand and thought … ok we can handle this but on further exploration the babies entire forearm was presenting, and behind that, the umbilical cord. Arm/cord presentation means it is impossible for the baby to come down as it is at a risk of compressing the cord and therefore the babies oxygen supply. A quick and efficient trip to the hospital is necessary to save the life of the baby.
I called Rachel to hear her calm words of wisdom. Although I knew where we were headed, in the middle of the night under such circumstances talking it through felt right and comforting. And so a transport was set into motion. Ambulance ready to go, mother in the back on her hands and knees and off we went on the hour drive to the hospital. From decision to transport to arrival at the hospital was approximately 90 minutes. We were well received at Lacor Hospital in Gulu and she was in the operating room for a cesarean within 20 min. Mother and baby safe and healthy.
I have been in Atiak when there has been no ambulance and the realities of that look much different. Under those circumstances we walk the mother to the side of the road with hopes that someone will stop and take us to the hospital. In the middle of the night options are few and far between. Having the ambulance is a crucial aspect of providing safe care to our mothers and babies. Thank you to those who help fund our ambulance, its value can’t be measured. Safe birth is a human right, and supporting maternal and child health in this direct way allows for safe deliveries for the women that come to Ot Nyal Me Kuc.