The Pheriche Aid-Post
Started in 1973 by the Himalayan Rescue Association, the Pheriche Aid-Post, has helped and saved many lives in the Khumbu Himalayas of Nepal. The facility has as main purpose to prevent and aid trekkers and mountaineers suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness in short AMS, or other mountain ailments. Serving as a beacon of aid and safety the Pheriche Aid-Post played a big role in organizing rescue events during the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake. Every start of the trekking season in Nepal, from spring March the Pheriche Aid-Post prepares to lecture and bring awareness to trekkers and mountaineers regarding AMS and how to prevent it. Since the start in 1973 until date, due to the Pheriche Aid-Post cases of Acute Mountain Sickness in the Khumbu Himalayas have dwindled incredibly! With fatalities due to AMS almost zero per year, the Himalayan Rescue Association’s Pheriche Aid-Post continues to provide aid and info regarding AMS in the Himalayas and how to prevent it!
Besides aiding trekkers and visiting mountaineers, the Pheriche Aid-Post is there to help and aid the local community, officially recognized by the Nepalese Government to provide free medicines to local communities in rural villages of the Himalayas.
What is there at the Pheriche Aid-Post?
Currently the Pheriche Aid-Post can accommodate two doctors, one medical assistant, one cook and cleaning staff. The lecture hall has currently room for thirty five people and is even in the process of being transformed in to a sunroom that makes more use of natural sunlight! The Pheriche Aid-Post makes use of communication equipment such as satellite radios to contact and help organize in case of a disaster such as an avalanche or earthquake
While the Aid-Post is still a relatively small building and well maintained, it is necessary to every year upgrade with new materials, medical equipment and communication equipment! In this endeavor the Himalayan Rescue Association works closely with local government in Pheriche and the Nepalese government.
What is the future plan for the Pheriche Aid-Post?
With all the work done at the Pheriche Aid-Post, there is still more to do! The Pheriche Aid-Post started in 1973 as a rented yak hut, and has overtime upgraded to a concrete building. So what is the future plan for the Pheriche Aid-Post?
New Sunroom/Lecture Hall:
A new sunroom/lecture hall is being built to provide more seats to give lectures and information regarding Acute Mountain Sickness and other mountain ailments. Making the current lecture hall bigger, and implementing a sunroom to access more natural sunlight will not only serve as saving on electricity or generator fuel for light, but also serve as a secondary health ward in case of a disaster like an avalanche or earthquake.
Better communication equipment:
Who has been in the Himalayas before, especially in the Khumbu region of Nepal, knows that long distance communicating can be tough to nearly impossible. The most reliable source of communication are satellite radios, or phones. Currently the Pheriche Aid-Post with the HRA is trying to get their hands on the latest satellite radios. This will not only help in spreading awareness around the region but also help to better communicate with other aid-posts, base camps and in case of emergency with first responder agencies.
A bigger building:
Although the Pheriche Aid-Post is proving to do excellent work in the Khumbu region, it can always do better. Due to limitations of the current buildings size, the future plan for the Pheriche Aid-Post is to make it bigger to serve more people, and aid those who are in need!
Brief History of the Pheriche Aid-Post.
Not a building, but a rented yak hut. (1973-1974)
The Pheriche Aid-Post came to be in the early fall of 1973 when a French nurse named Daniele Laigret volunteered with the Himalayan Rescue Association and rented a yak hut in Pheriche to setup an awareness center to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness in the Himalayas. This yak hut was very basic and what you’d expect from a yak hut, dirt floors, no isolation, roughhewed beams and stone masonry without any caulking! Later that year another volunteer from America decided to help out at the first Pheriche Aid-Post, a nurse named Dolly Lefever. She together with Tashi Sherpa, her guide and assistant from Nepal stayed and helped trekkers and mountaineers from the yak hut until the ending of the trekking season in January 1974.
With the Pheriche Aid-Post now officially active others soon started to notice the volunteer work that has been done to save trekkers and mountaineers from AMS. In the fall of 1974 Dr. John Winter spend he’s time providing medical services from the yak hut as the first volunteering physician. In the same year another doctor named Dr. Peter Hacket trekked through the Everest region in Nepal, and learned first-hand about the problems and dangers that Acute Mountain Sickness can cause to travelers! He then decided to stay in Nepal and the next year in 1975 with the help of HRA went to the Pheriche Aid-Post together with Tashi Sherpa. Dr. Peter Hacket stayed for three consecutive trekking seasons at the Pheriche Aid-Post and even set up he’s sleeping tent next to the yak hut to provide instant medical assistance or consultation. While staying at the yak hut, he quickly noticed that very few trekkers or mountaineers even where aware of this small aid-post, so he and Tashi packed up every day and headed out to the trekking lodges to give informative and safety lectures regarding AMS and other mountain ailments!
The Pheriche Aid-Post gets a concrete form! (1975)
With more tourism heading to the Nepalese Himalayas, the cases of Acute Mountain Sickness also saw a rise in numbers, amongst them were also many fatalities due to AMS. The Himalayan Rescue Association’s Pheriche Aid-Post which at the time was still a rented out yak hut, was not sufficient anymore to spread real awareness and prevent future cases of Acute Mountain Sickness. Mr T.C. Pokharel the chairman of the HRA at that time and also one of the founders, met up with Prof. Hayata of the Tokyo Medical College and discussed how there has been a rise in AMS, and how the Himalayan Rescue Association is trying to study this mountain ailment in order to prevent it in future trekkers, or mountaineers. Impressed with the work of the HRA and its volunteers, Prof. Hayata decided together with the HRA to build an own research and aid facility, with more equipment and solid walls.
Due to Prof. Hayata’s cooperation and support US $50,000.00 was raised in support of this endeavor and in the summer of 1975 the Pheriche Aid-Post left the rented yak hut and took form in a concrete building! The location of Pheriche was chosen as the HRA was already operating via that region, and it is the place where most symptoms of AMS start to appear. Furthermore, emergency evacuations where only done via Perchice making the location more than ideal! Until this date the Pheriche Aid-Post operates from the same building that the HRA together with volunteers and Prof. Hayata made.
The Pheriche Aid-Post gets a well-deserved upgrade! (2000)
Operating for 27 years already the Himalayan Rescue Association’s Pheriche Aid-Post evolved from a simple yak hut into a concrete building with simple research and medical equipment necessary to pervade and help those with Acute Mountain Sickness! But it was only in 2000 that the Everest Memorial Trust’s Dr. Sandy Scott saw that the Pheriche Aid-Post was lacking a lot of modern equipment and facilities. With he’s help the HRA was able to upgrade the Pheriche Aid-Post by partly rebuilding, refurnishing and even extending the building. In order to solve the problem of remote area electricity, the Pheriche Aid-Post got 24 new sets of solar powered batteries that where required to run modern medical equipment.
Nepal associations with help of the ministry support the Pheriche Aid-Post. (2010-2012)
It was only in the spring season of 2010 that those solar batteries started to stop working, and this gave the Pheriche Aid-Post a big problem to operate. The HRA had to find a solution to replace the batteries and after 2 years in 2012 by the recommendation of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation the Nepal Mountaineering Association donated 10,00,000 Nrs to the HRA. Together with the HRA’s collected 6,69,493 Nrs new solar batteries where installed at the Pheriche Aid-Post.
The Pheriche Aid-Post plays a big role in rescue efforts due to the earthquake. (2015)
Devastating the entire country with destruction, injury and death the earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015 showed no mercy! Even in the Himalayas the earthquake left destruction in its wake, with avalanches and missing trekkers everywhere. The Himalayan Rescue Association’s Pheriche Aid-Post together with other rescue organizations played a big role in coordinating rescue operations deep in snowy Himalayas. Due to excellent team working and coordination the Pheriche Aid-Post was used as a base of operations to coordinate the rescue operation. From Everest Base Camp injured people were brought to the Pheriche Aid-Post for treatment and safe evacuation to Kathmandu. 72 lives were saved and evacuated due to the teamwork of all involved!
With the Pheriche Aid-Post now modernized and well established, the work continues to provide detailed information regarding Acute Mountain Sickness and other high altitude ailments in the Himalayas and how to prevent them. Now the Pheriche Aid-Post is trying to even further improve by setting up goals to reach set by the Himalayan Rescue Association, and with the support of the Nepalese Government, volunteers and donations these plans have been made for the coming future:
Improve the medical facilities
Improve and maintain the infrastructure of the building
Adding up more beds for patients
Construct Sunroom/Lecture Hall for lecturing (under construction 20210)
Provide more training sessions
increasing the medical testing equipment as well as diagnostic tools
Construct a new store room
Construct more patient toilets