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SV CharMel

Medical Emergency - May 11, 2007

On May 11, 2007, at 0536z, Pat W6DRX, aboard SV CharMel, (46 foot sloop) came to the net frequency, looking for medical advise/assistance. The net was closed but Richard NF5B and his wife Kathleen KC0HZU, in the Memphis-TN area, were up late and their radio was on 14.300 MHz. Richard and Kathleen habitually monitor the net frequency, whether the net is in operation or not.

Pat was located at 10º-11.0'N x 076º-30.0'W, or about 60nm offshore from Cartagena, Columbia. Pat reported that a 67 year old male crew member was in a diabetic crisis. Pat did not know if the person had taken insulin or not. The male had fallen asleep at the chart table and the other crew members were having difficulty waking him up and when he was finally aroused, he had the "deer in the headlights" look and was incoherent.

Pat had already tried to hail the USCG on standard marine frequencies but with no response. Then he remembered 14.300!

Fortunately, both Richard and Kathleen had significant experience with this kind of situation. The patient did have a glucose meter but Pat did not know how to use it and Kathleen was not familiar with the particular model.

It was decided to error on the side of caution and the patient was given a sweet liquid. Richard and Kathleen specified only sweet liquids to avoid choking. They then stayed on the frequency to monitor the effects.

At 0605z, Pat reported that the patient was now doing better. At 0613z, Pat reported the patient was doing much better and was coherent. And, having figured out how to use the glucose meter, his blood-glucose numbers were returning to a normal level.

The incident was closed at 0645z.

On May 13, 2007, SV CharMel wrote by email that the patient is 100%, and feels great. They suspect that he may have miscalculated his insulin dose that day due to fatigue and the heat.

Well done by Richard and Kathleen. It should be noted that Kathleen had only had her General license for 48 hours when this occurred!