Four TygerMaties recently made the news when they rushed to the aid of a woman who sustained serious injuries from a 13m fall on a popular hiking route on Lion’s Head.
The third-year medical students were part of a group of Kerkenberg House Committee members hiking up Lion’s Head with some first-year students. Mieschka Dollie (21) of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, who was part of another group of hikers going up the mountain, fell close to where the Kerkenberg students were walking. She suffered a head wound and a broken arm.
The four TygerMaties rushed to Dollie’s assistance and stabilised her until medical help arrived. According to Die Burger, Beeld and Timeslive, Dollie was airlifted off the mountain and taken to the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital.
Koos Botha, Kelton Poultney, Tessa Brooke and Glen Thatcher of the Kerkenberg House Committee described their feelings during and after the ordeal.
“They misspelled [my name] in the newspaper,” said Kelton Poultney. According to Poultney he has been teased a lot because his nickname is ‘Keldrogo’, “like the Game of Thrones character Khal Drogo”.
Speaking about the incident on Lion’s Head, he said: “It was the first time I was first respondent to a scene. I looked around and thought ‘Where is somebody to do something?’, but then realised ‘Oh wait, I'm the closest I need to do something.
“It was rewarding knowing I could actually do something and be calm in a situation like that,” said Poultney.
He attributes the success of treating the patient on Lion’s Head to staying calm. “Everyone remained calm and knew the role they should play and the situation became very easy to manage.” He said the Hippocampus Cycle Tour taught him how to remain calm and how to push yourself through difficult situations.
Tessa Brooke said the experience made her realise “the gravity of the work that we do [and] that you always have to be prepared.” Brooke, who will soon start her first clinical block said “it was satisfying to be able to help.”
“There is no use being prepared with skills if you don’t carry the tools with you,” says Brooke. This Zimbabwean with a passion for environmental sustainability said “putting the patient first,” was her priority on Lion’s Head.
Referring to Dollie, Brooke says she was really stressed. “I wasn’t involved in any of the physical help but I talked to her and tried to keep her calm.”
Teamwork was the key to care, saids Glen Thatcher. “It can happen (again) tomorrow,” said Thatcher, “When I was on the mountain with the newcomers I heard people shouting ‘Someone’s fallen! Someone’s fallen!’”
Thatcher, a passionate cook and swimmer said: “The thing that was on my mind was, what’s happening with the rest of the people I am responsible for?” He noted that their residence Kerkenberg has ‘family’ as one of its values.
“You can definitely rely on your team. The rest of the HK and the mentors really took charge,” he explains. According to him, while he had a team working with him to help the patient, another team was helping the first years in the group.
“Whatever you are learning is extremely relevant. Even as a student you can have a big impact on someone’s life. We started our lives down this path of looking after people and that doesn’t stop when we close our textbooks.”
Koos Botha agreed: “Trouble can happen anytime, you have to be ready. It’s a great thing that we were there.” Botha, who loves hiking, said one always has to be prepared, “even when you least it expect it.”
For Botha the experience on Lion’s Head confirmed to him that healthcare is what he wants to do and enjoys doing. “Getting into that situation and knowing what to do, and being able to help someone,” Botha says, really reaffirmed his desire to offer care.