Captain Vishal: “The ship’s Fitter was on all fours, having crawled out of his cabin at 1800 SMT; the Chief Engineer and I had been called out of the gym in urgency. The Fitter had been unwell the past few days. We shifted him to the ship’s hospital on the Upper Deck; I rushed to the Navigating Bridge and called the Company DPA and thereafter tried in vain to call the Company Medical Service Provider, who’d been prescribing regular medicines over email since he reported in sick.
Next, I called CIRM, Italy; we realised that the Fitter was suffering from dangerously high blood sugar levels; upon their advice, we put him on saline drips. We called the Ship’s Agents in the next port of call, which was yet 3+ days’ sailing away; we increased engine speed to maximum and diverted to the nearest port we’d arrive at the next evening.
Meanwhile, I also called the Brazilian Navy, and upon the Agents’ advice, they immediately connected to a Naval Doctor, whose advice was matching that of CIRM. All this while, I was doubling up and down six decks of stairs countless times for phone calls, inserting the saline needle in the patient as well as consulting the Ship Captain’s Medical Guide, now in soft copy, which was only available on a PC on the Bridge.
We managed to convince the Navy to arrange a long-flight helicopter for medical evacuation early the next morning; it had never happened in that country’s history before! At 0900 SMT the next day, the helicopter had been trying to approach the vessel for an hour (it was too large to land); the pilot hovered over Upper Deck, while a Paramedic and her assistant winched down and ran to the ship’s hospital.
The patient’s heart rate had already slowed down and he was declared dead by the Paramedic.
As a Ship’s Master, I realised that I needed much more than a regular Company Medical Service Provider, that would keep a check on my crew’s wellness and health right from their sign-on all the way up to sign-off, to prevent an emergency situation from developing, in the first place.”
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