A small child walks gingerly over a rocky mountain field as he returns to his home after watching over his family’s alpaca herd. It’s late afternoon on a cold icy day. When a stone rolls under his feet, he turns his ankle and falls to the ground in pain. There is no ambulance to rush him to medical help. There are no cars and no roads in his Andean village to transport him to a medical professional.
Splints are now available for emergencies
Thanks to SAM Medical, the Q’ero village has a stock of stabilizing splints that locals have been trained to use. Once trained, a villager can both immobilize the child’s leg with the splint and can modify another splint to carry him safely to medical help. The SAM Splints have a soft exterior shell with a firm aluminum interior that can be molded to a patient. The device gives this child and future injured villagers a chance for a better recovery until a doctor can treat them.
This scenario is possible because Cherrie Scheinberg, co-founders of SAM Medical (www.sammedical.com), learned about the Heart Walk Foundation’s mission from expedition volunteer Cheryl McGovern of Rockville, Utah. Cherrie immediately approved the donation of dozens of re-usable high-quality SAM Splints to help the Q’ero immobilize a broken limb until medical help is available.
Cheryl McGovern is a Physician’s Assistant at St. George’s Dixie Regional Medical Center that allowed Cheryl time off for the expedition. As a participant in HWF’s July 2018 Expedition to Q’ero villages high in the Andes, she trained the locals in the use of the SAM Splint to improve the chances of survival and a positive outcome from a broken bone. It was her goal to empower villagers of all ages of the many uses of the SAM splints. She hopes that some of the villagers will be inspired to become future leaders and that at least one person from each village would find a passion to pursue an education in medicine.
During the training there was plenty of laughter with children eager to play “patients”. The adults were also entertained. Because there was no common language, the students studied the pictograms on the packaging to understand how to use the splints for a broken arm, leg and ankle. Three of the children quickly learned how to use the compression dressings to treat excessive bleeding and taught the technique to the rest of the community. Now there are three potential medics in the village!
Because there are no vehicles in the remote villages, these special splints can be used to carry a patient across the mountains to medical services. Cheryl demonstrated this technique with Stacy Christensen posing as a patient, accompanied by much laughter by people of Yanaruma village.
One villager, Santos Machacca, had most likely broken his ankle just before our visit but had to run with his pack llamas across the mountains regardless. Cheryl placed his ankle in a Sam splint, and two days later Santos came to thank her because he was feeling so much better and was able to walk without a stick. The splint stabilized the limb so further injury would be limited. It was rewarding for both Cheryl and the villager.
Heart Walk Foundation is most grateful to SAM Medical for their caring, compassion and generosity on behalf of the Q’ero villagers. Cheryl’s training program was a success, and now there are plenty of reusable SAM Splints available for immediate use when the Q’ero need them for critical situations. Thank you, SAM Medical, from the villagers and from us for your heart-felt donation that will make emergency care a reality high in the Andes.
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Penelope Eicher 435-619-0797
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