Some time ago we published a report about a medical emergency service based in Harare/ Zimbabwe: ACE.
BOA-Afrika e.V. asked for an interview, because we wanted to know more about their work and experiences. Luckily we got all our questons answered.
Team of mixed nations
We learned that 26 people work for ACE who offers medical help for locals and tourists by road and air. The people who work for the emergency service come from all over the world like South Africa or the Philippines. Before they all applied to the „HR department“ to become a new team member in ACE, all of them have worked at various emergency wards fulltime for at least five years.
ACE owns their own emergency planes to rescue people from all over Southern Africa. Six pilots share shifts to make sure that they are ready to help whenever they are needed.
Both locals and tourists are ACE´s patients
In most cases the team of ACE is called to help because of accidents. But sometimes patients need professional help after burns, heat strokes or incidents with animals. The people of ACE are always happy to help and give the best they can do.
Injured locals are often taken to the nearest hospital by road. Tourists sometimes use the air service to be flown back into their home countries. The costs for treatment and transport is covered by travel health insurances.
ACE also offers their own insurance package. Between 7 days to even 12 month you can register for their insurance scheme that covers for expenses up to 100 000 US$.
A doctor and a nurse are always in the airplanes to take care of the injured person. Sometimes even a third person joins the team if the injury or illness requests for that.
The patient´s wellbeing is most important
After the First Aid the patient is taken to the hospital which suits his illness best. If it is necessary to go to a more distant hospital, but receive a better treatment the team of ACE will decide to rather take their patients there. The patient´s wellbeing always is the first choice in all kind of decisions the emergency team has to make.
Mark, the Operations Director of ACE, agreed to answer all of our questions.
He told us more about his daily life at work and what challenges he and his team have to face.
Mark is 30 years old and has been working in the Emergency Services for 12 years.
He is a Traumatologist and Advanced Life Support Paramedic.
Interview with Mark (Operations Director of ACE)
BOA-Afrika e.V.: „Mark, what do you think is the biggest challenge about your job?“
Mark: „The most challenging about our job is the poor after care for our patients. We do our best in very harsh situations to keep a person alive. On arrival at the hospital the person is not attended with the care they require due to lack of emergency training and limited resources. It makes you feel like all our efforts were in vain. We are also faced with resistance from untrained hospital staff which results in a negative way on our patients.”
BOA-Afrika e.V.: “What do you think is the best about your job?”
Mark: “Our job is a very challenging one that requires very special people that are patient and can work under severe pressure. Every day is a different one. It is a rewarding job that makes one feel useful on this earth. Saving lives is a daily duty but bringing a life onto earth is most special. Child birth is not the best call out we enjoy, but it´s special.”
BOA-Afrika e.V.: “Who normally makes the decision if you better reach a patient by air or road? How much time do you need to get there on average?”
Mark: “The mode of transport is selected by the medical doctor on duty. A ground ambulance is dispatched in two minutes after receiving the information. An air ambulance requires much more logistics and planning. It may take up to one and a half hours.”
BOA-Afrika e.V.: “How do people like the First Aid courses that you offer especially for guides and all others who are interested to attend?”
Mark: “Our training courses are very much enjoyed by people. We make them life like and exciting. We, on average, conduct one course every week.”
BOA-Afrika e.V.: “Is there any emergency case that is still in your mind, Mark? Why do you remember especially that one?”
Mark: “In 2006 I attended to a man that was stuck underneath a train. I gained access to him through a damaged carriage door.
From his hip down he was trapped under the train carriage, but he could still breath and talk. I had to attend to other people that were injured, too, and as I did this I would pass by him and talk to him and try to reassure him. He was in no pain but knew he was going to die. After attending to other patients I returned to try and assist him further with the fire man. They were not equipped to lift the train to free him. We eventually had to transport the other people to hospital who needed our attention. It was very hard to leave him there. We later heard he passed away in that position. It has stayed in my mind for 9 years now.”
BOA-Afrika e.V.: “Do you also remember weird emergency cases that you attended?”
Mark: “I once attended to an armed robbery case. When we arrived there we were surprised to find no one alive at the scene, but a dead body. After searching the area we suddenly found a man who was alive and locked in a room that we couldn’t gain access to. He said that he was the owner of the house and the dead man was the robber. He said the robber had locked him in the room. While we were waiting for the police, we noticed the family pictures on the wall. Some of them showed the dead man. It was strange to us and later we found out that the locked up man was not the owner of the house but the robber and murderer.”
BOA-Afrika e.V.: “Mark, would you like to tell us if you have any expectations about your future for yourself and your team?”
Mark: “I expect a very positive and successful future for me, my workmates and our company ACE!!! We all come back to our base each day after a long hard day of seeing pain and suffering. We encourage one another through the pain and as humans we also feel the suffering. Our family spirit makes us stronger and makes us want to help more! It is a small family business that will be blessed for all the good things it has done for many Zimbabweans from all walks of life. Each of us here at ACE were put here by God and our purpose is to save lives, prevent the condition from worsening and to eliminate pain and suffering. We will continue to do that as long as we live.”
BOA-Afrika e.V.: “Thanks a lot for the interview, Mark!”