CASEVAC & changeover

So after my educational and inspiring trip into the kota Marudu jungle mountains I returned to fieldbase with zed.

On the following day we were all told we could have it off! So after a lovely lay in I wondered downstairs and are breakfast. And then, the CASEVAC alarm went off…

As you will know by now we have the radio and therefore white noise on 24/7 at fieldbase. The CASEVAC alarm is sounded when a Venturer or indeed project manager away on site is in need of drastic casualty evacuation from wherever they are based on project.

The first week of phase one we had done mock CASEVACs so that everyone could see the Raleigh routine/method of evacuating someone from a project site.

Because of all the immense practice the whole thing seemed to go very smoothly. Immediately we all were assigned roles. From preparing the land rover or documenting the radio conversation through to making cups of tea!

A Venturer had managed to have a trangia explode in her face leaving severe burns. I was assigned with two others to drive to telupid some 4 hours away to pick her up. Here she would be with the PM medic from the group having been driven down from the project site at Imbak canyon.

So as you can see things here at Raleigh can take drastic turns and your whole schedule can be turned upside down in a matter if minutes.

After such an amazing but exhausting time away with zed I was looking forward to that day off! But of course as soon as the alarm sounded I knew the day would be very different and our priority was getting the Venturer out of the project site and to a hospital in Kota Kinabalu as soon as possible.

The whole journey went swimmingly. I drove the leg back to KK where there is a usually beautiful drive right underneath mount Kinabalu. Unfortunately as it started to turn dark, so with it came heavy rain and mist meaning quite a gruelling last hour or so.

Fortunately I can tell you that the Venturer is now almost completely cured. The burns on her face no longer show at all and also her legs.

The whole experience was quite remarkable. How Raleigh deals with these situations is all based in the prep that the volunteer project managers do on their ppv’s (project planning visits) that happened in the second week we arrived. This includes GPS coordinates for a helicopter and route cards if the fieldbase staff have to drive out (as we did in this case)

On top of this there is of course a huge amount of prep that Raleigh Borneo has succeeded to do over the last 11 years with regards to relationships with hospitals and doctors and also with rangers near project sites and the search and rescue helicopters.

Even though the circumstances are never nice it was an incredible experience to see all the training and prep work we had all done come together. It really proved that all the two weeks of training we had was beyond valuable for us all.

After the CASEVAC, Monday and Tuesday were spent preparing for changeover. The end of the first phase was almost there! 19 days, 5 project groups based all over Sabah each doing either adventure, environmental or community based projects.

On the day before changeover me and the rest of the logistics team left for base camp early to receive the gigantic order of food for phase two we had ordered. We spent the day unpacking it in the boiling heat and distributing it into the relevant project group piles that in turn were then lifted into corresponding army tents.

Changeover happened extremely quickly!! There were a few birthdays, Halloween and the skits.

I was on the judging panel for the skits. Basically each alpha group have to do a skit that represents and shows the rest of the expedition what they have been up to.

Most alpha groups hadn’t really grasped the concept of a skit… Until finally the last group performed with a guitar an awesome song with a very catchy chorus that literally took us through a story of their whole phase. They of course won. 

Changeover is literally 48 hours and there are a lot of things at the end to take back into the city to fieldbase. This time nat and I decided to take back a whole load of stuff in an afternoon so that we only needed to do one trip back to fieldbase after changeover. Yet again pretty exhausting stuff. Also in hindsight quite frustrating as we don’t get to spend that much time with the venturers at all as we are so busy. 

This is why I am really looking forward to the loop, so that I can really meet people properly!! 

On return back to base camp from the city we arrived back to everyone watching examples of previous expeditions music videos.

Basically each expedition chooses a song and they do a music video to it filmed all over the country at their various project sites. It’s a lot of fun and something that they can take home with them to remember Raleigh by!! 

This year the song we chose is ‘let’s get ready to rumble’ by Pj and Duncan (Ant & Dec) it should be pretty awesome and can’t wait to see what they all come up with over the second phase!! 

Everyone was assigned their new project alpha group on the Friday. It’s quite a big job for kris and Phili to place everyone in teams. There may have been mishaps or couples created in the previous phase that have to be split up. Tim was assigned to dive/trek (alpha 5) so he will have a relaxing week on mamutik island (Borneo dive island) before trekking out into the jungle for 9 days!! 

The whole changeover went very quickly and soon enough we were on the road out of base camp and into phase 2 of the expedition. However this wasn’t before we found one of the project managers – mentioning no names (JAMES) backpacks left in a basha. This meant nat and I had to leave and drive about an hour and a half in the direction their bus had left and taken them in at 6am that morning. Tuh! Can’t get the staff!! Haha. Literally couldn’t believe he had done that bless him. Luckily we found it in good time.

So that just about wraps up changeover and the dramas before and after!! Now Onto phase two!! In this phase I go on the loop which is basically driving all round the country seeing each alpha group. There is a loop competition whereby each alpha has to entertain us and feed us like King’s! The winning team is crowned at next changeover.

Very excited about visiting all the project sites. 2 of them in particular have only ever been visited by max 100 people. They are not particularly accessible and therefore require some extreme off road landrover driving!! I have to say I am nervous about that but I am sure it will be awesome fun 🙂

Until next time….xx


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