Going out to Little Diomede

Going out to a place like Diomede is not that easy. Diomede is out at the ends of the earth…way out of the way. There are many variables pertinent to traveling to this rock island that in my modern travels, I haven’t really factored any more. This is more like going to a village in Papua New Guinea, also the last frontier and also the land of the unexpected.

Not the least of these variables is whether or not there will be an airstrip carved out on the sea ice or if the trip will be by helicopter, since the island is on a steep-sided rock in the middle of the Bering Sea. Then of course there is weather (the principal and a teacher were stuck trying to get back to Diomede for a few weeks, in the last month of the school year!), mechanical issues, and how many other passengers are waiting to get back to Diomede, and how much mail and cargo has built up in the towns around Diomede. Also for me–it meant trying to fit a village trip into a full-time schedule in town. Lucky me, I’m the village doctor for Diomede and three other villages, so it is something that the medical director makes a special exception for.

This was my first time to Diomede, and I got lucky to go there with one of the Nurse Practitioners who has been working in this region for six years: flight to wales

We weren’t sure if we were going to make it into Diomede or not, so we went to the village of Wales to await a mail run out to the island. From the airport to the clinic, I got a sled ride!

Sled ride

Then a guy picked me up on his snow machine and we zipped to clinic–he said “Just hold on real tight, because we are going to go water skipping.” And we did–we drove across a patch of open water and got to clinic a couple minutes later.
Water skipping

Awaiting the chopper in the container cargo shed:
Awaiting the chopper in the connex

Loading the chopper:
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince the mail had accumulated, the chopper was going to make several mail runs back and forth between Wales and Diomede.
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Unashamed selfie–yes, I was excited to be on the chopper going to the island. The pilot said he would take it for me, but couldn’t take his hands off the controls. I did not object. 🙂
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Rounding the South Point
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Can you see it?
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And the chopper took off–leaving us here to get to work, seeing patients!
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See next post about Little Diomede

 

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