Story by Sirpa Rissanen, photos by Roy Rissanen
The NHTH team visit different parts of the rural Mongolia each year, flown to their destinations by Blue Sky Aviation, teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques and delivering training on obstetrical emergencies to medical professionals and emergency rescue personnel. Once the training has been completed, Anita’s team donate the mannequins to each province’s medical staff, for them to establish their own CPR training programmes.
On this year’s flight, flown by pilot Roy Rissanen, the passengers were Anita Owens Rich and Tanya Owens, a Mongolian doctor, and a number of nurses and midwives from various hospitals in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital.
On this medical safari, the first stop was Kharkhorin, a one-hour flight south-west from Ulaanbaatar. The one-day training course, which attracted over 90 attendees, saw army and rescue personnel, midwifes and other medical staff taking part in the CPR and emergency delivery workshop.
Anita’s team used mannequins to demonstrate how to properly administer CPR to both adult and infant patients.
Typically, most Mongolian nurses and doctors have only studied the theory of first aid, and for most of the participants it was the first time they could physically learn and practice on the dummies.
Mongolia is a vast country, and driving the long distances between remote locations and the nearest hospital can take hours. It is very useful for ambulance and taxi drivers also to know medical basics, like CPR, should their patient’s condition deteriorate, or a baby needs to be delivered whilst on-the-road.
Their second stop was Khalkhin Gol, a remote military village on the Chinese border with Mongolia.
The road quality there is very poor, and it would have taken 2 days to drive from Ulaanbaatar, each way. Blue Sky Aviation has opened a temporary airstrip there, meaning the flight only took 4 hours - instead of days overland.
This allowed the NHTH team more quality time on the ground, delivering training, during their visit, rather than spending days travelling.
The Khalkhin Gol hospital conditions are very basic; there are not even any plumbed-in toilets there.
Upon their arrival, traditional milk cups (symbol of blessing) were presented to Anita and the other trainers.
Around 50 army and security personnel attended the CPR and emergency delivery training.
Pilot Roy recalls, ‘One of the Mongolian doctors in the team, a cardiac paediatrician, had some years earlier operated on the Khalkhin Gol Army Commander’s child. He was now returning the favour by hosting the team and organising all the logistics during the visit.’