Yesterday was an extraordinary day…. one we will not forget. As we were sitting down to lunch, Allan from Kwaimatta Village brought us news of a severe Caiman attack. The victim was his father-in-law Davidson Vincent. At about 9:00 am Davidson was fishing is a shallow pond near Cajuero on Karanambu land and his net caught on what he though was a piece of wood. When he went into the water to release the net he discovered it was a black Caiman. The Caiman attacked. He tried to climb out of the pond, but slipped on the drying mud. The Caiman attacked him again, this time taking tearing off a piece of his buttock to add to the first chunk removed from his lower lumbar from the initial strike. Somehow he managed to pull himself onto the bank. It was sometime later that his wife came to check on him and found him severely injured, but still alive. She walked the 7 miles back to Kwaimatta to sound the alarm. Alan went on motorbike to assist, not realizing that Davidson was too severely injured to bring back on the bike. It was from there that Allan road into Karanambu Lodge for help. Our vehicle immediately left to pick up Davidson. In the meantime, thanks to Captain Malcolm Chan-a-sue and the First Responder training we first received in October 2010 and all of the subsequent follow up training by Nurse Marcian Gravesande, we knew what to do. We began to set up the Trust House for triage and we called out the emergency to all of our friends. Everyone responded instantly. Although the RAM (remote area medical) plane was in Georgetown for repair, Paul the RAM pilot called Dr. Joe Torres in Lethem. Once the patient arrived at about 2:00 pm, I was able to speak to Dr. Torres by cell phone (standing between the cashew trees behind the big house we can get a reasonable signal on good days). I explained to Dr. Torres that the medical condition was far too severe for me to handle alone. As I began to describe the situation, Dr. Torres agreed. He immediately called the Ministry of Health and requested Medivac assistance. In the meantime, Trans Guyana flew Dr. Torres into Karanambu from Lethem. All the while, Salvador was in constant contact with Sharon Correia at TGA. While we waited for the plane to land, I continued to apply pressure to stop the bleeding and maintained constant conversation with Davidson to assess his condition. He was just remarkable. The pain was clearly severe, but he remained focused and in control. Ryol was waiting at the big airstrip to pick up Dr. Torres when the plane landed. I have never felt such relief, as I did when I heard the vehicle approaching with Dr. Torres onboard. That was just before 4:00 pm. Dr. Torres evaluated the situation and began giving our team instructions. Because we had been trained we all had on our gloves and were ready to assist. Dr. Torres began emergency treatment to stabilize Davidson. He started an IV drip to give him fluids and antibiotics. Blood pressure and pulse had been recorded as well as the details of the injury. Because Dr. Torres had requested a Medivac plane through the Ministry of Health, our friends at Air Services Ltd. responded immediately and a plane was in route from Georgetown with another doctor on board. While we waiting for the plane, Dr. Torres performed “bush surgery”. Davidson had been lucky, although the injury was extremely severe, one inch closer the Caiman would have severed his spine…one inch the other way, a blood vessel. So as horrific as the injury was Dr. Torres was able to stitch the injury for travel, knowing full well that these stitches were temporary because Davidson would require extensive surgery once in Georgetown. During the entire procedure, Dr. Torres was remarkable. He called out instructions and requested “time checks” so that he knew how much time he had before the plane landed. Thanks to Captain Chan-a-Sue and the Aircraft Owner's Association, Vivian Carlson, Nurse Gravesande and the Remote Area Medical doctors, Indy Bowen and our friends who donated medical supplies, Karanambu was well equipped to support Dr. Torres in handling this emergency.
The Medivac plane landed on our small airstrip, right here on the compound. Because we had put the First Responder Back Board on the table before Davidson was lifted on to the table when he arrived, we were able to easily lift the board and carry him to the plane.
I had physically held on to Davidson from 2:00 pm to 5:29 pm when the plane landed. My arms can still feel him. I can still hear my voice in his ear asking him questions about his family. He told me about his wife. He said to me, “my wife, she save me. My wife, she walked far to get me help. My wife, my wife my wife.” He told me he had gone fishing for his grandchildren. He told me he had eddoes for sale. He was going to bring me some eddoes. Davidson Vincent is a remarkable man. In the midst of this life and death situation and excruciating pain, he stay present, right there with me. His son-in-law Allan was with us the entire time, he bravely assisted every step of the way and traveled with him in the Medivac plane to the hospital in Georgetown.
We later learned that a posse of villagers from Kwaimatta went in search of the Caiman. They did find him and they killed him. He measured 12 ft. 4 inches in length. The head was brought into Karanambu. This morning the Caiman Tagging team from Caiman House in Yupakari village went out to examine the carcass for research purposes.
All of us at Karanambu would like to take this opportunity to express our most sincere thanks to:
Dr. Joseph Torres, Paul – RAM pilot, Air Services Ltd, Trans Guyana Airways, Captain and Mrs. Malcolm Chan-a-Sue, Nurse Marcian Gravesande, Vivian Carlson, Indy Bowen and The Remote Area Medical Team.
And Dr. Edwin R. Levine, who was Andrea’s Dad; he continues to inspire us each and every day.
We are most grateful,
Andrea, Salvador and Diane
The Karanambu Family