There have been a few calls for medical help on the Oyster World Rally and a crew of Canadian doctors aboard Chinook have been the go-to ‘field hospital’. David Glenn listened to some gory details

Photo: Mark Snyder/WetArtProductions

There are quite a few doctors on the Oyster
World Rally, to say nothing of lawyers, and although event manager Debbie
Johnson said she could also do with a marriage guidance councillor from time to
time, having professional medical personnel dotted around the fleet has been

There’s a cluster aboard Brian and Doreen
Long’s Canadian Oyster 56 Chinook. The Canadian docs, who reminded me a bit of
the legendary MASH tv series featuring an army field hospital in the Korean war
– especially considering the name of the boat – have been called on a number of
times. Someone sliced deeply into their upper arm in an accident with a knife,
a nasty toe injury following an incident with an anchor had to be attended to
and one lady needed stitches over her eye.

David, a surgeon, told me he reckons they have the
capability to perform an appendectomy onboard using local anaesthetic – at
which point I had to find a chair. “What about a heart attack?” I asked. “Not
much you can do apart from prescribe aspirin.”

“We’ve had a couple of ‘red knees’,” said David. Red knees? He explained that a couple of people had contacted Chinook
complaining of swollen red knees. “Without an examination this is difficult to
diagnose,” said David who said it could either be a condition which will simply
clear up unaided or an infection which can be extremely dangerous if not
treated properly with anti-biotics. In each case the condition cleared up but
it concerned him that yachts might not have adequate medical experience aboard
to make the right diagnosis.

In fact it is a condition of the rally that
all yachts have someone who is medically trained and a number have specially
designed medical kits which they use in conjunction with a ‘hotline’ to the UK
to companies such as Mark Tommo Thomson’s Medical Support Offshore. While this
might be no substitute for the highly capable crew of Chinook there’s a good
chance most yachts will be able to treat most conditions before professional
help can be called upon.