It was a small undertaking but the mandate to serve and protect was very much in effect when a squad of Guyana Defence Force ranks went out on a mission to rescue a dental outreach team that had lost its way en route to St Cuthbert’s Mission.
The trip should have been a routine one as it constituted a mandatory fourth Friday outreach to the mission to render dental health services there. Those that made up the team were the dental staff from the Grove Health Centre including: Senior Dentex, Faye Duncan and Community Dental Therapists Holly Adridge and Zoaann Anthony-Douglas, along with a driver attached to the Ministry of Health. They left around 09:00 hours that day.
The driver had on numerous occasions taken the team into the area but for some reason lost his way this time around.
Recounting the daunting ordeal, Duncan said that upon recognising that they were lost the driver attempted to retrace his tracks but was unsuccessful.
The vehicle eventually became stuck in a muddy area, effectively bringing the attempt to a halt.
And it was at this time and point that the team became overwhelmed with a most disturbing sense that they were really in trouble and needed urgent help. “It was around 10:30 hours.
We really knew that we were lost and the agony started because then we realised that we had no water, no food and we really had no idea where we were at the time. There was no one else around…We were in this jungle area searching for a way out.”
They would remain stranded for the next nine hours uncertain about their ultimate fate. Having tried and failed, the team, using a cellular phone, attempted to contact a former Senior Health Visitor of the Grove Health Centre, Sister Olga Stacia, who in turn reported the dilemma to the Ministry of Health.
Reports are that word was sent out to the Medex and Captain of the St Cuthbert’s Mission and a trailer was dispatched in search of the dental team. That attempt failed to locate the team. But unwilling to give up, the Medex persevered.
Recognising that crucial time was elapsing, day turning into night, Adridge made the decision to contact her brother, Guyana Defence Force Major, Godfrey Bess, at his Camp Ayanganna base.
Without hesitation Mayor Bess contacted the Colonel at Camp Seweyo who dispatched a team of officers to locate the dental team. The GDF group took to the trail some time after 16:00 hours and came into contact with the searching medex before locating the lost dental team shortly after 19:00 hours.
And it was no easy task locating the team as they were way off the normal trail. In fact the GDF team had even contemplated abandoning the mission. But as if guided by a Supreme Being, the GDF squad was forced to continue the attempt and was eventually able to locate the dental team whose members were by then famished and dehydrated.
However, that was not the end of the dilemma as it took another two hours to free the stuck Ministry of Health vehicle and tow it out of the forested area.
“It took about two hours to drive out. We were way down somewhere off in Marudi and they could not have found us that easily. It was difficult and they realised that it was a very serious matter,” a grateful Adridge reflected.
In expressing sincere gratitude to all those who rendered their assistance in one way or another to them being rescued, the team during a visit to Kaieteur News said that they are most grateful to the GDF officers who went the extra mile and took the necessary initiative to help them.
They are also grateful to all the Ministry officials and others who offered help and prayers during their dilemma.
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