For 32-year old community health worker in Solai, the decision to stay a little bit longer at Lecheila Clinic last week on Wednesday when Patel dam burst was simply heavenly.
Mary Waruguru, saved at least 30 children brought in critical condition despite having no medical training.
The Patel dam claimed 47 lives after it burst wiping out Nyakinyua village which is located downstream.
Armed with just a first aid kit and the knowledge from a Red Cross training 18 years ago, she put up a brave face and saved 30 young lives.
Her efforts were lauded on Wednesday during a memorial service held in Solai and attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto among other dignitaries.
Waruguru said she could not stand seeing a mother lose their child so she had to work smart to save their lives.
“I was in shock, I did not want to see any mother lose a child in the tragedy. I had to recall my first aid skills that I acquired years back, in 2000, and it helped me save lives of at least 30 children,” she told the Standard in an interview.
She recounted that on the fateful day, around 7:30pm, she heard a loud bang and her first thought was it was floods but there was no rain at the time. It is at this point that she heard loud screams and cries.
Two doctors who were with her at the clinic fled for safety leaving her alone. Most terrifying was at the point when she rescued a month-old baby whose mother had been swept by the floods.
“The baby was brought by a police officer in a vehicle. Inside the vehicle was the baby’s mother who had lost consciousness after being swept away by waters. I was touched, and decided to put my best skills to save the boy,” she recalled.
“I cleaned the baby whose body was cold, and placed it on my chest. I was the happiest woman when he breathed again,” said Waruguru.
She stayed at the clinic all night long where she attended to 30 patients with her basic life-saving skills.
“The night was a struggle, I did not sleep, I received tens of casualties whom I served singlehandedly, but later, locals and doctors joined in.”
Lecheila is a privately-owned clinic by police officers and volunteer rescuers; the heroine works as an administrator. She is also the founder of Lecheila Africa, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that runs the clinic.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui hailed Waruguru for saving 30 lives without any medical training.
“My special tribute goes to Mary Waruguru, an administrator without medical training, who helped save lives,” Kinyajui said during the service.