Yachting World




Anchored in a remote lagoon in the Solomon Islands last year, Tom Partridge and his partner Susie Plume were into the third year of a circumnavi­gation on their Hylas 46 Adina, when Tom suddenly started to feel very unwell.

Consulting their copy of the Ship Captain’s Medical Guide, they determined that he was showing common symptoms of malaria. Susie contacted a friend in Vanuatu, who happened to be a qualified vet, for a second opinion. He shared their view and, after speaking to his own GP, suggested that as well as treating Tom for malaria, Tom should also be treated for infections he might have which show similar symptoms to those of malaria.

With a box of prescripti­on drugs and extensive first aid kit on board, Susie was able to administer high doses of two broad spectrum antibiotic­s before sailing them 24 hours to Gizo. Having seen a doctor there, Tom and Susie then flew to Brisbane for intensive hospital treatment.

On arrival in Australia, the infection appeared to be subsiding. The antibiotic­s seemed to have helped. After multiple tests, Tom’s condition was diagnosed not as malaria, but as suspected septicaemi­a caused by a small abscess in the root of one of his teeth.

Having experience­d a medical emergency so far from home, Tom and Susie are now convinced of the importance of having access to profession­al help by satellite phone. “I used email extensivel­y and the satellite phone a few times throughout the period from Tom falling sick to reaching Brisbane. Not only was I receiving medical advice but also help with logistical arrangemen­ts and much-needed emotional support from family too.

“I could not have done what had to be done without this help. Most importantl­y I would not have known to give Tom the antibiotic­s in addition to the malaria treatment and I cannot bear to think about what could have happened. In short, it’s great to take training and carry equipment and drugs but you cannot beat the experience of profession­als.”

Telemedici­ne more affordable

For sailors who don’t have a medical profession­al on their contacts list, there is now an ever-increasing range of telemedici­ne services that offer remote

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