Halifax-based PRAXES Steps Up for 2013/2014 Clipper Round the World Race

By Elizabeth A Kerr

You just can’t call 911 from anywhere…

3 days, 21 hours, 8 minutes and 5 seconds into Race 3, Leg 2 of the 2013/2014 Clipper Round the World Race (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to Cape Town, South Africa), Halifax-based PRAXES – the race’s Global Emergency Medical Partner – is launching its first ever Twitter program targeted at the South Africa market…to attract new customers in the next ports of call. A program to push Google ads globally is also underway.

But that’s not the beginning of this extraordinary partnership at sea.

In 1997, Susan Helliwell, MESC, P.Eng., along with emergency doctor (and husband) John Ross, M.D. responded to a Request for Proposal to provide emergency medical support to the offshore oil and gas industry. Winning the bid, PRAXES Medical Group was then established to address the needs of businesses with remote workers in dangerous industries. Susan is currently CEO of PRAXES and is responsible for its overall business development and management strategy.

PRAXES – a supplier of industrial telemedicine – provides health services for clients on-site and in the most remote locations in the world. Already supporting the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard, oil and gas installations, prisons, mines, fishing fleets, and even Mount Everest climbing teams, PRAXES stepped up this spring to supply 24/7 global emergency medical support to the 2013/2014 Clipper Round the World Race. Why? To dramatically increase awareness of its service to a qualified global audience.

Two years ago, John Hockin, VP of Marketing at PRAXES, made the fruitful pre-qualified cold call to the Clipper organization in the UK. His goal was to put PRAXES on the global stage. The task was to identify a unique opportunity that would provide PRAXES increased and significant awareness and branding, prestigious third-party endorsement, and a sexy international venue with huge worldwide appeal and impact, all of which would attract a network of international distribution channels for PRAXES. The Clipper Round the World Race certainly fit the bill and on May 23, 2013, this exciting Canadian/UK partnership was announced.

Not three months later, as part of the critical pre-race preparation, Susan Helliwell and John Ross, M.D. arrived in the UK to conduct hands-on training with the skippers and onboard medics to enable the efficient and effective response to a medical emergency onboard. Training included how the service works and how it’s to be used during the race. There was also a demonstration including a head to toe survey of what kind of injuries and medical problems might be anticipated. Additional training was also offered for simple suturing, airway management and intubation.

As the official supplier of global medical emergency support to the more than 12 skippers and 600+ amateur crew, PRAXES’ EMdoc service provides 24/7 access to one global number, a guaranteed response time of five minutes or less, answered by a Canadian emergency doctor specialists anywhere in the world, for the entire duration of the race.

In addition to this, PRAXES oversees the comprehensive medical kit and supplies, as well as its EMwerx software system designed to manage people, assets and emergency events, in real-time, in the field. In addition to the traditional Medical Report Form completed as part of registration, PRAXES has provided the ability for each crew to also complete a detailed Personal Health Record (PHR) to log additional information such as next of kin, medications being taken, known allergies, and any other significant medical history that would be important to know if one had to be treated for a medical emergency while on board. (A PRAXES emergency physician can access this information in the event a call is made.) Although strongly recommended, completing the form is not mandatory.

So, today, twelve identical, 70-foot, stripped down racing yachts – each sponsored by a unique location and manned by a fully-qualified skipper are competing in Leg 2 of the 2013/2014 Clipper Round the Word Race.

Other than the skipper, the more than 600 crewmembers are amateur sailors representing cultures, religions and lifestyles from over 40 countries but are now learning to share a common understanding for teamwork and for respect.

In the event of an incident, every skipper will be able to call PRAXES for medical advice given by the ‘on call’ emergency physician who will have access to the crewmembers’ medical history (if they have completed a PHR) and be able to diagnose remotely and recommend appropriate treatment.

Over the past 15 years, use of the PRAXES onboard emergency support system has significantly reduced the number of emergency incidents resulting in medical evacuations and/or diversions, due to appropriate onboard diagnosis and immediate treatment.

In fact, in the case of Clearwater Fleet – one of the world's leading seafood companies – it achieved a savings of more than $500,000 in one year alone, largely due to significantly reduced diversions (estimated to cost $100 a minute).

For the Clipper Round the World Race, the cost of insurance is a significant expense in the running of this year-long race. Premiums are impacted by hospital visits at any given port. It is estimated that the implementation of PRAXES’ EMdoc service will reduce the number of onshore treatments (i.e., hospital visits) by 35%, thereby reducing insurance costs as well.

Imagine, too, the peace of mind for crew and their loved ones at home!

In return for this, the Clipper Round the World Race provides each of its sponsors, partners and stakeholders a complete shopping list of sponsorship benefits including the traditional signage on site, expansive branding online and on board, as well as access to and inclusion in all public relations efforts, including social media.

Each sponsor and/or partner has also been assigned an account manager whose focus it is to ensure that each and every request is dealt with a “whatever it takes” attitude. From the very start of the relationship, every effort has been made to ensure that no matter the request, a solution was uncovered, whenever possible. Ongoing communications (at least every other day) solidifies this welcomed rapport.

The Clipper team feels strongly about delivering value to its sponsors so they gathered them all together in London before the race and encouraged them to get acquainted and work together. This corporate camaraderie will continue in each port along the way.

To complement this collaborative approach, PRAXES has also been working with the Canadian Trade Commission Service (TCS) to maximize business possibilities in every port. PRAXES visited with TCS staff in London who will represent PRAXES in ports of call along the route. TCS will leverage PRAXES’ sponsorship rights to promote both PRAXES and the Canadian Health IT sector worldwide. To support this, PRAXES is contributing to a year-long blog on ExportCanada – the TCS web-based magazine that reaches more than 23,000 Canadian businesses.

Skippers contact the PRAXES’ support line by a satellite phone. Every call has access to automated translation services – ready at hand. For insurance, historical and statistical purposes, every incident call is recorded. Because the degree of experience is vast in varying circumstances, every medic, RN, doctor or caller is also evaluated by the emergency doctor: 1) to ensure the caller was prepared with an appropriate and complete evaluation; and, 2) to vet the caller’s personal diagnosis. PRAXES’ commitment to the best care available starts with that call. (To date, there have been seven recorded incidents resolved on board during the Clipper Round the World Race.).

In addition to onboard care and treatment, PRAXES will also supply crew with “virtual clinics” set up on the docks – yet another way to reduce unnecessary visits to the local hospital and lower insurance claims.

Although PRAXES is the only Canadian sponsor in this Clipper event, it is not the only Canadian component.

Canadian yachtsman Eric Holden has been selected as one of the twelve elite sailors tasked with skippering the Henri Lloyd team around the world in the ninth edition of the Clipper Race. Eric, 33, is fresh from his role as weather forecaster for the Canadian sailing team at London 2012. Boasting a strong racing pedigree, Eric was part of the first Canadian team to win the Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race in the race’s 106-year history. Apparently, he also has an eye on becoming the first Canadian skipper to claim victory in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. (You can follow Eric’s progress at http://yb.tl/clipper2013.)

Jim Cole, a 70-year-old Halifax/Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native, now residing in San Francisco crewed in the 2010/11 race. Although Jim had sailed for more than 35 years, he spent the three weeks at Clipper's UK training facility getting accustomed to the 68' racing yachts sailed in that competition. Jim is the oldest participant ever to compete in the race to date.

Alyson Murray, a Bridgewater, Nova Scotia native participated in the 2010/11 race at the age of 20 being the youngest crew member at the time. Having whetted her appetite as a volunteer when Halifax was a ports of call a year earlier, Alyson was hooked. After serious contemplation about postponing her graduation (in neuroscience at Dalhousie), Alyson joined the fleet to do the final two of seven legs.

PRAXES should be applauded for stepping up. Its involvement in and support of the 2013 Clipper Round the World Race is an exemplary example of how Canadian corporations can forge unique and lasting partnerships on the world stage. In this case, PRAXES was looking for a two for one return but rumours have it, that even six weeks in, it has surpassed that!

Today, PRAXES boasts a national bench of 20 emergency physicians that is constantly growing, through in-house referral only. Future plans include a consumer solution, so stay tuned.


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Founder and Chairman of the Clipper Race


PRAXES Medical Group    praxes.ca

Clipper Round the World Race    clipperroundtheworld.com

Canadian Trade Commission     tradecommissioner.gc.ca

Photo Captions (Photographs courtesy of clipperroundtheworld.com)

Photo 1: The PRAXES Medical Group logo is in good company with Henri Lloyd, Rotary Aquaspeed and Rockport on the transom of every boat in the fleet.

Photo 2: Henri Lloyd, an event partner for more than 10 years, has been the Clipper Race’s Technical Clothing Supplier since 2005.

Photo 3: Canadian yachtsman Eric Holden has been selected as one of the twelve elite sailors tasked with skippering the Henri Lloyd team around the world in the ninth edition of the Clipper Race. Eric, 33, is fresh from his role as weather forecaster for the Canadian sailing team at London 2012.

Photo 4: Mayor Boris Johnson and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Founder and Chairman of the Clipper Race announced London as the host city for the start of the 2013/2104 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.


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