July 3, 2016
A crew member competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has been successfully medevaced off a yacht in the North Atlantic Ocean with the help of PRAXES Medical Group and ClipperTelemed+, the race’s Emergency Medical Support Partner, and the Department of National Defence’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, both based in Halifax, which carried out a challenging helicopter rescue.
British sailor Chris Drummond, 62, from High Wycombe, UK, a crew member on board the IchorCoal yacht, had complained of severe chest pains on Thursday, June 23, but was stabilized after receiving care from one of the team’s two on board medics, a Consultant Anesthetist.
The decision to carry out a medical evacuation of the crew member from the racing yacht to Halifax, Nova Scotia, was made as precaution based on advice from PRAXES and ClipperTelemed+’s specialist remote telemedicine doctors based in Halifax.
Due to the strong prevailing conditions around 220 miles from Halifax, the primary rescue plan had to be abandoned, and the secondary plan implemented with two helicopter crew from the Canadian Department of National Defence’s Search and Rescue team lowered on to help winch Chris off into the Rescue 913 helicopter at 0914 UTC/0614 ADT on Friday, June 24. Drummond was then transferred to Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Halifax where he is undergoing tests and receiving the necessary care that he requires.
Photo: In 2015, Clipper Ventures and PRAXES Medical Group launched the global joint venture ClipperTelemed+ to provide remote medical support to international seafarers and adventurers in some of the world’s most inhospitable areas.
IchorCoal Skipper Rich Gould praised his crew and the Canadian authorities following the medevac and described the difficult and delicate rescue operation which involved two helicopters in a subsequent Skipper report.
“This might be an amateur race, but from what I have seen from my team in the past 24 hours I can assure the crew are anything but,” said Gould. “The total time of the whole operation was little more than 30 minutes from when Rescue 913 began to track us for the primary plan. Once we changed to the secondary plan it took 14 minutes from the time that we made contact with their guide line. It was very impressive stuff – 14 minutes to lower two men, collect the casualty and extract all three people.”
“I must say a massive thank you to all involved in the rescue, everyone from the Clipper Race team to the doctors at PRAXES and ClipperTelemed+, each operator that I was in contact with from Falmouth, UK, the USA and Canada, both on the phone and via email, the air crews of both the C130 and Rescue 913 from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax., and of course the winchmen that came down on the wire. Myself and the crew would like to wish our fellow crew member a swift recovery. We are thinking of you,” Gould added.
The IchorCoal team has now restarted the race to Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, following the race start from New York on Monday evening. The crew, and the eleven other competing teams are now on their final leg of the 40,000 nautical mile journey which concludes in London on Saturday 30 July.
Doctors at the PRAXES HQ in Halifax, Canada, responded to the satellite phone call from on board IchorCoal and assessed Chris’s condition and gave medical advice remotely. Simultaneously the doctors also worked directly with Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre and their Search & Rescue team to help manage a helicopter medevac as soon as the yacht was within range.
ClipperTelemed+’s John Hockin, VP of Marketing, said of the medevac: “With no other supporting symptoms that could have positively identified a more minor condition, ClipperTelemed+ doctors quickly chose to call for an immediate diversion towards Halifax whilst providing advice for the Skipper and on board medic to help care for Chris in the short term.
“All of us at ClipperTelemed+ and PRAXES are extremely proud in the way our doctors manage a remote situation and make the essential call to medevac when it is necessary. We wish Chris Drummond a speedy recovery in hospital in Halifax and the crew of Ichorcoal a safe trip to Derry-Londonderry,” added John.
During the Clipper 2015-16 Race, torn torsos have been sutured, broken bones set, what was feared to be a heart attack correctly diagnosed as heat exhaustion thus preventing a medevac, extreme pain relief administered for gall stones, and countless minor bumps and scrapes have been treated efficiently with the expert advice from ClipperTelemed+ and PRAXES doctors.
The Clipper 2015-16 Race marks the tenth edition of the unique global event which was established by legendary sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to allow anyone, regardless of previous sailing history, the chance to experience the thrill of ocean racing.
More than 700 crew, representing over 40 different nationalities, have competed in the Clipper 2015-16 race as they can choose to complete either the whole circumnavigation or take part in individual legs. In the past 20 years since the first race set sail the race, over 4,000 people have taken part.