Surgeon and nurse save crushed finger

Once again, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers has proven the benefit of co-ordinated support between yachts at sea, following a medical emergency onboard the Oyster 53 Tallulah of Falmouth.

Fifty-five year-old crewmember Ron Parker, from Balcombe in the UK, suffered a severe injury to his finger late on Tuesday 30 November. In the rolling Atlantic swell, his finger was crushed as the heavy insulated freezer top fell back, breaking the bone and causing a nasty wound.

Ron was treated onboard, and remote medical advice was obtained from the International Marine Emergency Centre in Rome. However, with the yacht still at least six days out from St Lucia, there was a significant risk that Ron might lose his finger.

Skipper Fred Neale, also contacted ARC organisers World Cruising Club, to pass on a request for additional medical supplies from other yachts close to their position. Via the ARC Fleet Net, several yachts responded, and yesterday (Wedesday 1 December) afternoon the Italian Sweden 45 Marival met with Tallulah to transfer supplies of sterile dressings and extra painkillers. Later that afternoon they were joined by the German Hallberg Rassy 53 Jasika IV who had a surgeon and a nurse on board.

Owing to the sea state, Dr Gerhard Trömer and his assistant Edger Willie, then swam across to Tallulah, complete with a mobile sterile operating unit. They were then able to set the broken bone and stitch up the wound to Ron’s finger. As a result of their efforts the chance of infection is greatly diminished and the prospects of saving the finger much improved.

Ron describes the encounter yesterday: “We met Marival around 14:00 to take on extra drugs and painkillers and then liaised with a German boat Jaksia with a surgeon and nurse onboard – both swam across to our yacht and then performed something that could have come straight from the TV show MASH! What a wonderful gift these guys have. Although my finger is in a bad way, only one tendon is damaged and we will meet Gerhard and Eddie in St Lucia in 11 days time to take out the stitches.”

All the yachts have now resumed course for St Lucia.