HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOURSELF ON THE ROAD WITH THE SURFING DOCTORS
Many years ago I was on a feral overland trip to HT’S, during a time that the hollow tree was still standing, and Surfers Of Fortune was yet to be released. To say the area was deserted is a grand understatement. We didn’t see any other people apart from a few of the villagers for our entire stay.
One morning one of the surfers pulled into a backhand barrel and hit the reef so hard on his bum in front of me that I winced on his behalf. The water was immediately awash with blood, and we took him in.
He had a piece of his arse cheek missing. Not a cut, or a scrape, but a relatively large chunk of arse-meat was gone, possibly getting nibbled on by small and friendly reef-dwelling fish family. I had a pretty decent first aid kit, however, and it was all that the whole village had in the way of medicine.
We cleaned his ass every morning, then after every surf, and in the evening before we went to sleep. It was tiring and arduous, but the waves were good, and if that hole were to get infected, there would have been dire consequences. So we got toothbrush and peroxide and scrubbed, and he screamed daily.
The Surfing Doctors is an association of like-minded medical professionals who all like to surf, and who are very knowledgeable on all sorts of emergency medicine and of treating injuries and dealing with trauma in remote locations. They have a roster at G-land, they do stints at Macaronis Resort, and are currently looking at more camps and locations around the world. They look out for surfers, as well as help with local villagers, from a more benevolent perspective.
Their very basic premise is that if you are a surfer who is going to travel to off-the-beaten-track locations, then you need a full first aid kit, you have to know how to use it, and you need to be prepared to climb in and if necessary, save someone’s life.
We hooked up with the Surfing Doctors founder and director Dr Phillip Chapman, to chat about these first aid kits and other travel necessities. Dr Chapman spent a few years working at the Truro Hospital, before taking up a job as the Staff Specialist in Emergency Medicine at the Bunbury Regional Hospital in WA.
“The first thing is your insurance. You have to have travel insurance,” said Dr Chapman. “If you don’t have enough insurance and you have a bad injury at a remote location, you’re going to need to be evacuated, and the helicopters are only going to come if you have the right sort of insurance. Double check. Make sure. If you’re losing blood and they have to trundle you out of a place like G-land in a broken down old truck, there’s a chance you’re not going to make it through the night.”