In January, my husband and I traveled to Thailand as a part of the Trauma and Emergency Management Program. This program provides training, support and essential medical supplies to mobile, community-based “backpack” medics. The “backpack” medics hike through difficult terrain to deliver lifesaving emergency care to people in remote, landmine-contaminated areas of eastern Myanmar (Burma).
Our Journey began on January 24th, 2018. We flew from Salt Lake City, Utah to San Francisco, California then to Beijing, China. After a 24-hour layover in China, we finally flew to Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) to begin training. The initial trauma training was supposed to take place in Burma, however due to political instability in the region, the training was moved to Mae Sot, Thailand. Since my husband and I were already in Burma, we decided to stay and explore the city.
While in Burma, we stayed at the Hotel Kan Yeik Thar, located in Inya Lake. Hotel Kan Yeik is approximately 15 minutes from the Yangon International Airport. From there, we toured the city on foot and via Uber/taxi. We visited the Yangon Zoo, Inya Lake, and the Shwedagon Pagoda.
This beautiful landmark (shown below) is a stupa or dome shaped structure. The stupa houses Buddhist relics and gives the people of Myanmar a place to worship. We toured the pagoda with an English-speaking tour guide, took photos and loved learning about its history.
We left Yangon on Sunday, January 28th. We flew to Mae Sot, Thailand to meet the rest of the TEMP team. There were 7 team members which included 4 trauma/ER doctors, and an RN. The training began on Monday, January 29th. While in Mae Sot we stayed at the J2 hotel. The J2 was our home for 7 days while we attended the training.
The length of the training was 6 days. It took place in a classroom located next to a now abandoned hospital. The “compound”, as they called it, was now used to house the students while they attended training. Each member of our team was assigned specific subjects that were used to teach the medics. Some of the subjects included: Anatomy & Physiology, Limb Injury/Amputation, starting IV’s and pregnancy and childbirth. Bryan and I were given fracture/dislocation, splinting and bleeding management. We also assisted with a “jungle operating room” which included the pig lab. On this day we studied and taught anatomy using pigs from a local farmer.
We started each day with an activity or “ice breaker”. Since the students did not speak English, it was a good way for all of us to get to know each other without having to use the translators. One morning Bryan and I decided to teach them the Macarena!
Some of our responsibilities during training included making and building models for the medics to use in class. We used sugar cane and paper towels for the fasciotomies and nebulizer tubing, as well as gloves for tracheotomies. For the abscess lab, we used sponges and strawberry yogurt.
Although the training took up a lot of our time, we spent most of our evenings trying out the local cuisine with the rest of the team. Family style is how they do things in Thailand, and boy, did we eat!
met so many wonderful people and learned so much while on our trip. But after almost 2 weeks we were ready to go home and share our experiences with friends and family.