Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jenn's home - my last posting - event timeline Dec.27

This is my last posting. Jenn is home, it is time for her to take her blog back. As my final posting, I thought it would be helpful to the PCV’s and their parents, friends and families to share the following timeline of events from the Peace Corps side of things on December 27th. Their response was truly incredible.

There is a saying “heroes are not born, they are made. They are everyday people, like you and me, that rise to the occasion". The Peace Corps and American Embassy in Malawi truly are staffed by heroes.

In the timeline below, I have substituted titles and abbreviations, to protect the privacy of the individuals involved, and still give them the recognition they deserve. Many of the people involved put their lives at great risk in accomplishing the evacuation of Jenn and Tim. As the Acting Head of Country wrote to me “those of us over here (Malawi) know who we are from the titles – that’s what’s important”.

The rest of this posting is from and e-mail from the PC Acting Head of Country, Malawi:
“So many people have been part of this effort on this side, and two weeks ago I and our management team gave "Outstanding Teamwork" awards to staff who participated in the evacuation of Jenn and Tim. They include:

From the Peace Corps:

Acting Head of Country, Malawi (AHC)
Safety and Security Officer (SSO)
Associate Director, Education Sector (APCD)
Head Driver – Mechanic (HD-M)
Medical Assistant (MA)
Admin Officer (AO)

From the US Embassy, there are:

Medical Officer (MO)
Ambulance Driver (AD)
General Services Assistant (GSO)
Consular Officer (CO)
Embassy Administrative Officer (EAO)

Dec 27th at a little past 1pm US Embassy medical officer called and told me (AHC) Jennifer was hospitalized somewhere in "Zimbe", which made us think it was in "Limbe", in the southern region. I called several Vols in the south, including the PCVL to see if anyone had seen her and knew if she was in the hospital in Limbe or Blantyre. I went to the office immediately and met our SSO who was there updating the out of site records, and together we pored over the Vol lists trying to figure out who might know of her exact location.

1:45 pm: MO confirms she's in Mzimba. Efforts to contact other Volunteers in the area fail as they are out of range or on leave. We get info that she traveled with Tim. Neither PCV's phone is responding.

2 pm: AAO gets word from police in Mzimba there are two PCVs in hospital but info is sketchy and vague. MO says if we don't speak with PCVs in next 30 minutes personally we leave for Mzimba.

2:30 pm: We agree to meet at Embassy to depart for Mzimba. I (AHC) take PC vehicle and go home to prepare for trip. SSO stays in office on phone. APCD likewise making calls from office to get info. SSO preparing to go if needed.

3:00 pm: Get word from Mzimba there may be a third PCV involved (later turns out there was none, but perhaps the driver was this person)

3:30 pm: MO and I (AHC) meet at Embassy, ambulance driver also there. Prepare ambulance for trip.

4:00: pm we depart Embassy for Mzimba about three hours away north. It is foggy.

5:00 pm: MO speaks with Jennifer on phone, she seems upbeat and tells him Tim's condition. MO also speaks with clinical officer at hospital and is told they have mostly soft tissue injuries though Jenn has broken clavicle. SSO and MA told not to come north, that we will stay in touch and let them know if we need anything.

7:00 pm: we arrive in Mzimba town and go to District Hospital. Meet Jenn and Tim there. MO examines and I (AHC) assist with nursing duties until midnight.

00:00: MO decides there's too much risk staying in the hospital overnight and we prepare to leave.

Comment from Jenn – at midnight, the MO decided that Jenn and Tim were not stable enough to stay in Mzimba, and that they needed to leave. MO asked AHC “Are you up for this?” And AHC’s response was “Yes, let’s do it”. The drive was very slow, because of the fog and the extent of Jenn’s injuries.

00:30: am we depart Mzimba Hospital and head slowly south. Tim is in Land Cruiser with me (ACH) and Jenn in ambulance with MO and ambulance driver.

02:00 am: Embassy Management Officer and Consular Officer arrive at Embassy to prepare for medevac procedures, making new passports for the two, which were lost in the accident.

04:00 am: I call MA and HC-M and ask that they go to the office and retrieve trauma kits, including oxygen and IV bags.

06:15: we meet HC-M and MA on the road near Madisi. Jenn gets fresh oxygen and new IV bags for both.

08:30: am arrive at hospital near Lilongwe airport. Jenn gets new chest x-ray.

09:00: am leave for airport on news medevac plane arrives. Met at airport by AO and GSA, who arranges exit and immigrations issues, plane clearance.

Noon medevac flight takes off for South Africa.

Final comment from me - the timeline continues in Pretoria - we receive a phone call from Pretoria mid-afternoon from the PC Medical Officer. He advises us that he is at the Unitas Hospital in Pretoria, Jenn and Tim have landed, and are in transit. He has everything prepared for their arrival, and will be back in touch.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jenn's coming home Tuesday

We talked with Jenn and the PC today, and have a ticket for her to leave Pretoria on Monday, and will land in Atlanta on Tuesday morning. We are driving down Monday night to meet her at the airport Tuesday morning.

She asked "will you bring Rascal (her dog)? Yep.

If everything goes as planned, we will have her back here Tuesday afternoon, and start the long road back to recovery.

She was given a Pnuemonia shot today, and said "it's really wierd not to be able to use either one of my arms".

Later, I will post (with permission) an e-mail from Brian Conners, Acting Head of Country, Malawi, that details just how heroic their evacuation from Malawi was, and the very large number of people involved.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Jenn has had her medical exit physical in Pretoria, and the doctors feel she will be well enough to possibly fly home over the weekend - home Sunday or Monday morning. We are still working on the details, the time difference makes it challenging.

She is very disappointed to have to leave Africa, knowing she can never return - but most glad to be leaving the Guest House and coming home. There's just no place like home!!

She is still in a lot of pain, especially her back, shoulder and teeth, and will take a long time to heal - but at least she will be here where we can help.

Brenda is off the next two weeks, so the timing is great - and only flys 9 days in February.

Thanks again for all of your thoughts, prayers and well wishes!! I know Jenn will be anxious to communicate with each of you as soon as she is able.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

1/20/09 Update from Pretoria

I am sorry to be tardy in updating Jenn's blog - Brenda and I are both back at work now, and things are pretty hectic with work, running a household, keeping in touch with Jenn and the PC.

Jenn is doing ok, her voice is getting stronger, but she is still in a lot of pain - particularly in her back (where her ribs are broken) and her shoulders - they have not done anything yet for either of these, and are deciding whether or not to take care of them there, or send her back to the states.

She did have more sutures taken out from around her eye today, that the nurse missed, and they are looking back at her shoulder x-rays to see where the problem is.

Sunday, the "invalids" in the guest house went to the zoo for awhile - Jenn said the most interesting thing was a zebra-giraffe, and that it was good to get outdoors for awhile. They also get shuttled to the mall some, but Jenn can't stay long, and she is sleeping alot.

She still has not resolved her problem with outbound cell calls, but can receive incoming ones - the phone store is at the opposite end of the mall from where they are dropped off, and she is not strong enough to walk that far yet. She also has e-mail access, and is responding as she can to e-mails - I know she really enjoys receiving them.

Tomorrow she believes "Washington" will decide on her and Tim's fate - with his head injury, they may bring him back to the states, and they will decide on whether they will do Jenn's "medical separation" from the PC in Pretoria, or fly her back here and do the paperwork. She is pulling for back here, because she will be on the way three days more quickly, at least.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Update 1/17/09

We talked to Jenn today, she is still in Pretoria in the guest house. She has had a pretty rough week, a couple of bad days (from pain and discomfort) and a couple of good ones. After stitches, staples, and everything was removed, she was very uncomfortable, her stomach where her spleen was removed hurts a lot, she can't sleep on her stomach, left side (because of her shoulder) and it is uncomfortable to lay on her back (where her four broken ribs are).

She is still very hoarse, and her voice is weak - she says it doesn't hurt to talk, but it does take some effort. The docs say her voice should come back in a month or so. The biggest problem she has is clearing her throat - coughing hurts her stomach and her ribs, so it is a real effort. That could become a problem because of her lung injuries.

Jenn has been able to check e-mails, but hasn't written much, because it is hard to do so. She also is limited in how long she can sit at a computer - she is still very weak, and can't go very long without resting. She spends most of her time sleeping - which is a good thing.

Looks like Tim will be discharged back to Malawi on Monday, the other girl in the house that was in a wreck has already been discharged. We don't have any idea how long it will be before she can come home - she says that Tuesday was the earliest possible date, but doesn't think that is going to happen.

Jenn is very aware of everyone's thoughts, wishes, prayers, e-mails and calls - she just doesn't have the strength to do much yet, and is still sorting things out. Your e-mails and calls are a lifeline to her. By the way, she is having problems making outbound calls, but inbound calls work well, and are very welcome.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pretoria Update 1-15-09

I received a brief e-mail from Jenn this morning - she had "everything removed" at the hospital yesterday, and, apparently, it was quite painful. Her e-mail was sent at about 8:30 am her time, and she stated "I am in quite a bit of pain. I am sorry that this is so short, but right now, all I want to do is go to bed".

She is very glad to be coming home - no date is set yet, but she indicated it would be "soon".

We will probably talk to her again on Saturday, will post an update then.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1/13 Quick update

No new news from Jenn today - and from what we understand, no news is good news.

I asked Jenn about mailing things to her, she said "I'm not going to be here that long. If anybody wants to mail me something, please send it to the house - I want to be sure I get everything"!!

If you want to mail Jenn a card, letter, etc., please send it to her at:

821 Coxboro Dr.
Brentwood, TN 37027

Thanks again for your thoughts, prayers and support. They have pulled us through.