6:00 am – Wake up
Finias lives about 20 minutes away from downtown Mwanza with his wife and son who is three years old. He eats a quick breakfast with his family before heading out the door. His day starts early and ends late, but he doesn’t mind the hours. He has been working early days since he began driving as a Boda Boda driver in 2013 when he first got his motorcycle
7:00 am – Driving a Motorcycle Taxi
The life of the Boda Boda driver can be repetitive. He has a few favorite haunts he parks his bike at, waiting for people to hail him for a ride around the city. Growing up in Mwanza, he knows the city like the back of his hand and the drivers who work with him he considers friends. He’s luckier than most, having never been in an accident; but he has witnessed countless collisions, unfortunately. From people who get run off the road into the open sewers that line the street to getting side-swiped by cars that are dodging other pedestrians, hand carts and bicycles, it’s a dangerous reality in his line of work, but it’s a job that pays well for him to support his family in Kilimahewa.
Back in 2015 when the Tanzania Rural Health Movement began recruiting Boda Boda drivers to join the prehospital emergency network, Finias was a part of the first class to be trained. He had never had any prior medical experience but he recalled that the training had come naturally to him. He considers himself someone who is level headed in an emergency. He had seen so many accidents firsthand, and was excited at the prospect of learning skills to help others. Hearing him speak about it, it’s always been about helping other people for Finias. He sees this program as an opportunity for him to support his community and be a part of a solution to a deadly problem in the city.
11:00 am – Seeing an Accident
Accidents are not a rare occurrence on the busy streets on Mwanza. Few traffic lights exist and motorcycles thread through traffic at neck breaking speeds. One of the problems, Finias explained, is distracted drivers. He recalled a minibus accident a few months ago that happened when a driver was on his phone. Finias had passed by the scene and called it into the fire department for additional support since so many people had been hurt. He took lead managing the scene, triaging multiple patients, and organizing transport for three of the more critically injured victims on a passing Bajaji, a larger three wheeled motorbike. Finias loaded a more stable patient with seatbelt injuries who had difficulty catching his breath onto the back of his own motorcycle and headed to the nearest hospital.
He remembers that day due to how happy the other passengers of the minibus were when he stopped to help and knew what to do in the emergency. People can become easily overwhelmed when faced with multiple causalities from a motor vehicle collisions; they are scary situations, especially when there’s no other transport available. The emergency response number in Mwanza is not well known, so many injured victims don’t know who to contact or how to help those who have been injured. Tanzania Rural Health Movement has been working to change that.
Today, Finias passes another accident, this time it was a pedestrian who was hit by a car. The injuries are severe, but there’s only one patient this time. Both of the victim’s lower legs have obvious fractures and he is bleeding. Finias bandages the patient to stop the bleeding, looking for anything nearby to splint the legs while he waits for the fire department to bring the ambulance. He catches a ride with them to help transport the patient and was able to hand off the patient to the nurse, giving as much information as he knew. The doctors at the Emergency Departments in Mwanza have seen a lot of trauma, and very rarely do patients get any care before they are seen at the hospital. When patients do get care, the Emergency staff appreciate the efforts to stop the bleeding and stabilize fractures since it will make their jobs easier. There are still issues with dropping off patients due to the lack of regulation on this system, but Finias has had a lot of positive interactions with the hospital staff and is optimistic for the future. After all the excitement and well wishing to the patient, Finias catches a ride back to the scene to return to his motorcycle in the hopes of getting more fares.
3:00 pm – At the Tanzania Rural Health Movement Office
Finias goes to the Tanzania Rural Health Movement office at least once a month to update the transport records and to get paid for his time. He was recently made the leader of the drivers due to his dedication towards this program; he is hoping propel the prehospital system forward. He has been involved since the beginning and has responded to so many incidents, he understands how important this program is to the future health of Mwanza, and to Tanzania as it seeks to increase spending on prehospital systems. He wants to be a part of the future of this program as it grows and could see himself assisting in training future community responders after all of experience in the field.
Paramedics are not a license that is taught or recognized in Tanzania yet, but that does not stop Finias from wanting to become one in the future. He has a light in his eyes as he talks about the idea of doing this work full time. He has an obvious passion for this and volunteers in the hopes this could one day turn into a career.
9:00 pm – Going home
Finias drives back to his neighborhood after a day of travelling up and down the city. He stops by the fruit stand his family owns before returning home for the night. He keeps his cell phone on and charged just in case he’s needed.