Bradley Chesham is currently studying on our distance learning MSc in Adult Critical Care Nursing, having previously completed a speciality in Cardiothoracic Nursing at Australia Catholic University and a Bachelor of nursing at the University of Western Sydney. Born in Camden, Australia, he moved to London five years ago to travel Europe whilst working as a nurse at leading critical care centres across London.
In this blog, Bradley gives an account of a day working on the Papua New Guinea project he recently took part in. Watch out for further updates in the next few months!
The project involved Bradley working with an international healthcare provider as an intensive care nurse, to help establish a small clinic in Papua New Guinea’s second largest city.
At the end of Day 2 not everything has gone well. After my 26-hour flight from London yesterday, I arrived in Port Moresby at 5am. I was taken to an apartment, slept on a couch for two hours and was then picked up at 9am for induction.
Induction was at a hangar at the Port Moresby airfield and talked about the usual topics such as safety, infection control and malaria. I was struggling to listen as I was too tired but I did notice the city. It was poor in a way I’m sure most people have never known and can’t understand. Shanty towns, wild dogs, naked children just strolling around amongst drunks and kids selling drugs – certainly not a honeymoon destination.
I woke up the next morning for a flight at 7am; when we got to the domestic terminal it was unorganised and chaotic. After two hours of waiting and attempting to check in, it turned out my flight had been booked for the following day. Stressed and hot, the driver and I headed to a local coffee shop to kill time while I waited; it serves local PNG coffee and is a haven for expats. Attempts were made to get my flight changed to lunch time, so in the meantime I headed back to the office and had a chat with the crew. There were a few interesting conversations:
a) The operations manager told me about the time he had a car crash just outside Port Moresby. They spun 180 degrees off the road and down a small cliff. He got himself out of the car and climbed back up to the road. Once he climbed back up, he was met by four armed men; they stole everything he had at gunpoint while he was still bleeding from his crash.
b) A colleague headed out to a local military parade, left his things in the ambulance and returned to find his laptop, notebook, and passport all stolen. The ambulance was parked in the car park at the police station. He was due to fly to Lae to work with me but everything was cancelled until he could get to the US embassy on the following Monday morning.
I finally got a seat on a plane and got to Lae. First impressions were of an industrial city surrounded by mountainous jungle. I arrived at my place of work, Lae International Hospital, a small, private local hospital. We had four beds within the hospital for our clinic. I’m pretty sure this hospital isn’t the worst around but I will guess and say it is worse than anything you have ever known.
On the drive to the hospital I found out that our driver is only learning to drive! Absolutely loveable fellow but driving was not his game; he struggled to change gear, he struggled to concentrate on the road rules… we held on tightly. A scary prospect when you know bandits put up spontaneous roadblocks and arm themselves with shotguns to rob folk going past. Watching my boss walk through the drive-through because the driver over-steered and missed the entrance was hilarious yet disconcerting at the same time.
Arriving back at the hotel at the end of the day we de-briefed and chatted while a party for the local brewery raged outside. But it was time for bed for me!
Before I go, did I mention that when I first met the Lae International Hospital staff, they were sitting in the Emergency department singing karaoke? Random indeed!