NEAF Report A – 30 Mar 1971 – Mount Kenya

Nature of Incident ………. Civilian Suffering from Pulmonary Odema
Authority Alerting
………. N/A
Area Searched …………….. N/A
Location of Incident
…… Teleki Valley Mt Kenya
Located by …………………… N/A
Type of Search ……………. N/A
Weather Conditions  …. Good
No. of Casualties ………… One Total
Stretcher  One Walking  Nil
Dead  Nil
Vehicle Mileages    L/rover 1 x 20 miles, 1 x 10 Miles
ANNEX H                        TO MOUNT KENYA EXPEDITION
DATED 20 April 71
Team Alerted
…………..081030Z Mar
Called Out ……………….081030Z Mar
Left Base …………………081030Z Mar
Arrived at Incident …081055Z Mar
Duration of Search … N/A
Incident Located …….N/A
Casualty Evacuated to …. Naro Moru Met Clearing (Road Head) by 1500Z
Composition of Party     OC NEAF MRT Doctor 3 team members + 4 members of casualties party plus various rangers
Sub Units Involved     nil
Returned to base     090930Z
RCC Informed           N/A
Comments on Equipment:
Equipment used was a self-made rope stretcher plus one set of oxygen equipment. The performance of the oxygen on this rescue and during various trials will be the subject of a separate report.
A party of 5 had been climbing on Mt Kenya and had come into contact with the NEAF MRT Expedition at Top Hut, height 15,970 ft. One of the party, John Sinclair, a Physicist and Secretary of the Mountain Club of Kenya had complained that he felt unwell. On the 7th of March this party descended into the Teleki Valley where they spent the night at the NEAF MRT base-camp at 13,700ft. During the night Sinclair complained of chest pains but pulse rate and breathing checks appeared normal.
On the following morning, 8th March, the party left the base-camp and stated that Sinclair had collapsed and was in need of urgent medical assistance.
Jnr Tech Priestly left base-camp at 1035Z with one of the oxygen sets and Jnr Tech Stewart sent a message with the park-ranger to Top Hut asking for Flt Lt Nanson, the team doctor, to come immediately.  Jnr Tech Stewart then left for the incident scene.
Meanwhile, Flt Lt Nanson and Fg Off Le Marie were on their way from Top-Hut to base-camp after climbing Batian and were met by the park-ranger carrying Stewart’s note. they hurried down to base-camp, picked up the medical supplies and proceeded to the incident scene.
They found Sinclair in a makeshift shelter at 13,300’ and Priestley and Stewart administering oxygen. When they first arrived they had found his face and lips very blue and his pulse extremely weak. They administered oxygen at 10 litres per minute and he began to show immediate improvements. They kept written records of his pulse etc. every five minutes.
Flt Lt Nanson and Fg Off Le Marie arrived just after 1105Z and Flt Lt Nanson diagnosed High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema and stated that Sinclair must be evacuated to hospital with the greatest of urgency. A makeshift stretcher was manufactured out of rope. In the meantime, the patient was given an injection of Lasix (frusemide) + one gram of penbritin (ampicillin).
The carry to the roadhead was about 5 miles and about 2,500 ft of descent. The carry took 4 hrs and was very difficult and quite strenuous for those who took part.
During the carry, Flt Lt Nanson had to carry out a bladder catheterization and the oxygen was adjusted according to the patient’s condition.
On arrival at the road-head, Sinclair’s land rover was started with difficulty and the patient plus doctor, and one other were driven by Jnr Tech Stewart to the Consalata Hospital at Nyeri where the patient was received by Dr Ponti. In the meantime, Fg Off Le Marie proceeded with another landrover to Naro-Moru lodge and informed the National Park warden, Mr Woodley, of the circumstances.
Mr Woodley arranged an interception of the landrover carrying Sinclair and had them escorted to the hospital. Fg Off Le Marie arranged food and accommodation for the rescue party and Mr Woodly arranged for the party to be taken back to the road-head the following morning.
Without doubt Sinclair’s life was saved by the oxygen equipment but certain modifications are needed and will be the subject of a separate report.