Journal from Libya: Part 2

In celebration of National Midwifery Week, Medelita presents daily entries from the journal of Becky Carlton, BSN, CNM, an American midwife recently in Libya during the ongoing revolution. May 7, 2011 7:00am During the night I gradually became aware of shouting, loud explosive noises and eerie light. Some people left their beds to be in the hall, but by the time it registered for me, it was already over. I rolled under the bed next to me. In the end, it would probably happen so fast we’d not have time to react. The Libyans joke, “If I can hear the bomb, it is not for me!” Sad. True. Turns out that someone on the pro-Gaddafi side got an explosive of some kind and lobbed into one of the fuel reserve tanks in the port. Seventy-five million liters of gas make quite a sound when exploding. Ironically, my sleeping mind told me that it was merely an Ethiopian thunderstorm. Things were slow at the hospital yesterday since Friday is a rest day. Sadly, the MSFF pharmacy had a fire last night. Nothing was destroyed, but everything is black with ash and the clinic will have to be cleaned and painted before use. What the Libyans have done was really quite remarkable. I doubt we’d have set up a decent hospital in the States after moving twice due to shelling. They adapted well. Now, they need organizational support and more beds. My other concern is the apparent complete disregard for sterile technique. These are highly educated medical people, but it almost seems there is no belief in microbiology. Sterility doesn’t exist, nor is there any attempt to create it. Will need to explore this further since it seems pervasive and to be accepted even by the senior consultants. Heavy bombing right now (18:36) for the last hour or so and probably through the day, but it’s hard to tell what is bombing and what is shelling inside the hospital. To feel better, I tell myself it’s construction or thunder. I pray that people will not be hit. 10:35pm Shouting on the porch “…bomb…!” Everyone ran to center of house to lie down. The psychologist and Field-Co were sitting on the porch and saw an explosion high in the air, then they saw little parachutes falling from the sky. This would be consistent with the picture of the landmines that a doctor showed me yesterday. We all lay on the floor for a few minutes, while they told us what they saw. When do you get up? I guess a mine won’t blow until you step on it anyway or drive over it, etc. Good honk! How will I sleep now? Heavy shelling during med meeting and all evening. Seems very close! Very frightening! Everyone runs inside to hide in the inside hallway with our hearts racing, but there is really little we can do. The hits are random anyway. Not feeling very brave tonight. Becky Carlton, BSN, CNMMedelita Guest Blogger: Becky Carlton, BSN, CNM. Becky is currently working as the Midwifery Dean at Gimbie Adventist Hospital in Ethiopia. Becky has been doing missionary work for many years, with such organizations as the Peace Corps and Doctors without Borders (MSF).