Dr. Courtney Howard, MD

At some point in my life as an ER doc in a small town I started noticing sirens…but only when I’m within a day or two of working a shift.  The rest of the time my brain blessedly filters them out completely. I hadn’t noticed any since leaving Yellowknife, and then we got off the plane in Ketapang, in Indonesian Borneo, and started driving towards Sukadana, where we’d spend the next 3 weeks doing clinical teaching at ASRI’s hospital, which has the only ER in the area.

Some part of my subconscious had clearly switched over to “implicated in the medical system” mode…because all of a sudden I was noticing ambulance sirens as we passed through town.

And then we saw this truck up ahead. Darcy counted somewhere between 20 and 30 teen-aged students packed in–flirting and moving around, clearly being delivered home at the end of the school day. Suddenly, I was visualizing rural trauma rooms I’ve worked in, reflexively rehearsing what I would do in a low-resource setting if things went wrong with this truck.

And I felt pretty glad to be heading to ASRI with one of Yellowknife’s pediatricians to see what we can do to assess and improve the game of ASRI’s hardworking docs–because inevitably they will see some badness–and we want to make sure that they’re as ready as they can be.

I started noticing sirens on my way to ASRI

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