If the staff and crew at Pochentong Airport were ready to roll out the red carpet for the world leaders converging on Phnom Penh, Sok Vanrethea and Van Dalina were ready to roll out the gauze—just in case.
The women are medical doctors and members of specially trained Ministry of Health teams who are part of the anonymous mass of people waiting to greet dignitaries and on constant standby in case something goes wrong.
“We’ve been training for this for years,” Sok Vanrethea said.
Both women sat brushing their hair in the winds outside the VIP terminal at Pochentong, waiting for the leaders’ arrival, and hoping their skills wouldn’t be needed.
“Nothing’s ever gone wrong—so far,” Van Dalina said, sitting on a bench with her colleagues.
Although the teams are emergency doctors, they keep a low profile with dark slacks and white lace shirts. Nearby, though, they carry enough equipment to intervene if their services are needed.
“We’ve got all kinds of medicines, oxygen, other stuff,” Van Dalina said.
As Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s plane rolled to a stop on the runway and staff rushed out the red carpets Sunday afternoon, Sok Vanrethea and Van Dalina craned their necks, but stayed back, far from the runway.
“I’ve seen many, many big people,” Van Dalina said.
In their years of experience as standby doctors, so far they’ve been able merely to watch the spectacle, Van Dalina said.
“I like my job, but it’s my duty, too,” she said.