Borneo Medical Project

In May 2015, Ben Johnson (NHS ’17) received an award from SIPS to travel to Borneo, a southeastern Asian island. As a Human Science major and a member of GERMS (Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service), Ben’s passion for emergency medicine only continued to increase with every day he spent at Georgetown.

In June 2015, Ben set out for Indonesia. During his first six days there, he took a crash course in Indonesian to help him assimilate and better communicate with the culture around him in Borneo. When he arrived in Borneo, he immediately began work. The clinic he worked at was through an NGO called ASRI, which aims to address healthcare inequity in that region. At the time of Ben’s arrival, there was no EMS trained worker to work with ASRI to help transport patients in time of emergency need. 

Ben spent his time in Borneo serving as a medical first responder and working closely with the ambulance driver to assist patients as they were being transported to the clinic. Throughout the summer that Ben spent in Borneo, he not only responded to a high volume of calls but also worked to compile statistics and research patient logs, call volumes, and other information to help him better understand the emergency medical needs in the region. Not only did he compile research, but he also ensured a long-lasting impact of his time in Borneo by teaching the residents of the region first aid, training them in CPR, as well as working with the ambulance driver himself so that he could perform on-scene medical help even after Ben returned to the U.S.

After a summer in Borneo, Ben came back to Georgetown refreshed, renewed, and inspired. Of his experience, he said, “My view of emergency medicine was entirely changed. While at Georgetown and through GERMS we have high access to medical tools and a hospital five minutes away, in Borneo resources and personnel were scarce. I now realize that my skills and interest in emergency medicine can be practiced anywhere – like in Borneo, where I made a difference in a community with every call.”