Jim Mallas on his motorcycle trip in Africa
Jim Mallas of Colorado was on the trip of a lifetime in May 2018, traveling by motorcycle from Rwanda to Botswana with a group of his friends. The trip was to last 20 days, including several excursions such as gorilla trekking in Uganda.
Road conditions in this remote part of Africa are not always ideal for riding, and when the weather is bad, it can be especially dangerous. Mallas had been riding on a stretch of dirt roads in Western Tanzania that were recently hit with storms and were also under construction -- a combination of challenges that would prove incredibly difficult for the group to navigate.
“I crashed the motorcycle I was riding. I went over the handlebars during a terrain change and landed on my head and my shoulder,” Mallas said. “I shattered my collarbone, separated my shoulder, had a minor neck injury and separated most of the ribs on my right side.”
Off the beaten path in Tanzania, Mallas found himself with multiple severe injuries, broken bones, and a crushed motorcycle, unsure of where to turn.
“I crashed at about 4:30 in the afternoon. I was taken via a construction truck to the closest village which was Mpanda, Tanzania,” he said. “Mpanda doesn’t have a doctor or a hospital, but they had a church health clinic with an X-ray machine which confirmed the collarbone break. Surgery was necessary.”
It was then that Mallas called Global Rescue.
Global Rescue immediately began working on a way to safely transport Mallas from Mpanda to Nairobi to be seen by doctors at a hospital there. Vehicular travel was nearly impossible due to the condition of the roads, and Mallas’ injuries proved an obvious deterrent to transport via motorbike. The only remaining possibility was to bring in a medically-equipped airplane.
Global Rescue arranged for the aircraft to land on the small landing strip outside of the village of Mpanda and the next morning Mallas was transported to a hospital in Nairobi.
On board the medically-equipped aircraft
“The hospital had a great reputation. If I needed to stay in Africa for medical attention, it was one of the best options,” he said. Hospital personnel obtained a phone that worked in that region of Africa so that Mallas could continue to communicate with Global Rescue, his family and friends.
Mallas continued, “Global Rescue’s medical personnel did a great job of asking me questions to determine what condition I was in and what kind of assistance I needed, then put together a short-term and long-term plan.
Mallas underwent a number of tests to assess his condition. Luckily, the only broken bone was his clavicle. Ultimately, it was determined that Mallas would be able to fly home without any medical restrictions on a commercial flight.
“I was very appreciative that Global Rescue kept in touch with me frequently throughout the evening so I always knew what was going on. I could also communicate that to the group I was traveling with, as well as my wife,” Mallas added.
Global Rescue confirmed all arrangements with the airline that would be transporting Mallas, ensuring that he would be well taken care of in the airport and on the aircraft, and was in constant communication with Mallas throughout his trip home.
“At each layover, I had a message from Global Rescue on my phone to check in on me,” he said. “I felt like I was in good hands. Everyone at Global Rescue was diligently working on whatever part of the puzzle they had to fill in to get me safely organized, packaged, and home.”
Mallas arrived safely home in Colorado and was promptly seen at a local clinic for further care and surgery.
“Not only did I get home safely, but my friends were able to continue their trip and my issue didn’t negatively impact the whole group. That’s because they all felt secure that Global Rescue was going to get me back,” he said.
“People always ask how scared I was. The reality is, knowing that I had that Global Rescue card in the pocket of my motorcycle jacket—and once I called, that I was going to get home and that we were going to figure out a plan—I wasn’t scared at all,” Mallas said. “I felt like I was just along for the ride.”
Mallas at a fuel stop
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