Holly Schmidt is praying that 2016 brings an increase in medical volunteers and supplies to Bastimentos Island, Panama. Schmidt, who co-directs YWAM Ships Outpost Panama there with her husband, Tom, said the ministry has a number of goals for the new year. However, she has a new-found sense of urgency to make the base more dynamic in the area of health care after seeing locals struggle with everything from wound care to midwifery. Common wounds can often have tragic results if not tended to quickly.
One such incident occurred recently around dusk when a Ngobe boy went to Outpost Panama in search of Matthew Urspringer, who was there leading a short-term ministry team from YWAM Ships Kona. The boy was injured with a machete and was in serious need of first aid. The boy had recently met Urspringer while his team was working in the jungle.
Although Urspringer’s first-aid knowledge brought a measure of calm to the situation, volunteers at Outpost Panama were uncomfortable taking the additional step of administering antibiotics to the boy — whose name is Mark. No one on the scene had the medical training to know what to administer as well as an appropriate dosage, Schmidt said.
Had the incident taken place a few months earlier, the boy would have been forced to wait until morning before sailing to a hospital. However, the base had recently acquired a panga boat after a fundraiser by the Port YWAM Kona team that visited Outpost Panama last spring. Urspringer, Eben-Ezer Martinez Reyes and Colter Scarborough used the boat to bring the boy to the nearest medical facility 30 minutes away on Colón Island. Still, the lack of medical personnel on staff left volunteers there with no safer option than to travel to the hospital under the pitch-blackness of night, Schmidt said.
“They took flashlights and went in to Isla Colón at dusk.They were able to park the boat at a fire-station dock,” Schmidt said. “Even before they got the boat tied up, the fireman had called an ambulance. The guys joked it was like a big taxi service.”
Mark received seven stitches on each lacerated finger, a tetanus shot and some antibiotics. Schmidt said despite the stress of that evening, it was an opportunity to establish relationships with the Ngobe villagers.
“I think some good will come out of it. Several of the neighbors from the village hung out here with us until Mark got home from the hospital,” Schmidt said. She also said she hopes villagers will ask for help from Outpost Panama volunteers more readily in the future.
“What’s striking about this contact was it took our neighbors over six hours to come ask for help. Yet, we really believe it was the mercy and kindness that began to open the door for a deeper relationship.”
Schmidt said the base is praying for a medical-supply closet and medical volunteers who could serve the needs on the base and in the community. Click here for a complete list of the needs at Outpost Panama and for contact information. Click here for more information on our base in Panama.