Southern California Family Moving to Jungle to Save Lives | NBC Bay Area

Southern California Family Moving to Jungle to Save Lives

Mark Palm and his wife Kirsten worked for 15 years to save money to buy a floating airplane that could land on the river and transport the sick and dying.

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    A California family has dedicated their lives to helping people in remote villages get access to medical care. Angie Crouch has the Life Connected report for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. (Published Oct. 4, 2015.) (Published Monday, Oct. 5, 2015)

    Members of the Palm family have dedicated their lives to an extraordinary mission. They left the comforts of Southern California to move to Papua New Guinea to provide emergency air ambulance service to people living in remote areas.

    "There are 500,000 people and one hospital. There is a 700-mile river and most people are three to five days away from the one hospital," said Mark Palm, founder of Samaritan Aviation.

    Mark Palm and his wife Kirsten worked for 15 years to save money to buy a floating airplane that could land on the river and transport the sick and dying to the hospital.

    "A lot of people thought we were crazy and were just dreamers," he said. "It takes a lot of money to get a plane and training to go do this and a lot of people just didn't believe it."

    Palm formed a nonprofit called Samaritan Aviation, and in 2010 he finally got his plane. He got his first emergency call on Good Friday to transport a young mother who had fallen unconscious trying to deliver a breech baby.

    "We rushed her to the hospital -- she had emergency surgery," Palm said. "She lived and the baby lived. They named him Mark after me. It was an amazing feeling I can't put into words."

    Since then, Samaritan Aviation has saved more than 400 lives and delivered more than 100,000 pounds of medicine to 37 aid posts along the Sepik River.

    Kirsten Palm has a master's degree in education, so she home schools their three children.

    "It is important for us to allow our kids to be part of this so they realize the importance of helping others and giving back," she said.

    The Palm family is back in Southern California for a few months visiting family and picking up a second plane at the El Monte Airport that they will add to their growing operation.

    His family is living a dream come true and he hopes their story will inspire others to reach for the sky, Mark Palm said.

    "When you have something that seems unattainable and people are discouraging you, if you feel that's what you are here for and your passion is to serve and make a difference, go for it," he said.

    If you'd like to learn more or donate to help the Palm family's nonprofit visit their website.