• The Close Call On Bretwalda

    Bretwalda puts the hammer down image sharon green www.ultimatesailing.com

    Deception was within a half mile of Bretwalda and we observed an extended period when their kite was in pieces and they couldn’t get it down. Our navigator heard their radio broadcast that they had an injury aboard but were going to continue to race. One of our crew, Dr. Charles Stuart, is a retired orthopedic surgeon. He got on the radio and asked if they wanted to discuss their injury. After they described the injury, he advised them of what to watch for, including the important issue of checking to make sure there was a pulse in the lower leg and told them how to check it. They reported at first that there was a pulse in the lower leg. Shortly thereafter, they came back on to report that there was now no pulse in the lower leg. Charlie advised them to get the injured person to the hospital as soon as possible, as he needed surgery and he was at risk of losing his leg. Bretwalda reported they could make in to Marina del Rey in 7-8 hours.

    Dr Charles communicating with Bretwalda Crew
    image© don ford

    The CG was monitoring this exchange and came on to discuss with Charlie. Charlie told them 7-8 hours was not soon enough, that the lack of a pulse in the lower leg for that long meant it was likely the person would lose their leg in that amount of time, and that the CG should definitely proceed with a medevac, which they did. It seems from what little reports I have seen that this incident has a good outcome. The injured person did indeed undergo surgery to graft the veins and nerves back together and relieve constricting pressure from the surrounding muscle. But a disaster was narrowly avoided here.

    This is a good example of using the resources that exist on the race course, as well as prompt CG response. We should not be afraid to ask for a medical consult in these situations. If Charlie had not jumped on the radio and volunteered his help, it is likely Bretwalda would have done what I think many of us would have done – stabilize the injured person, give some pain medication, and continue sailing as long as he otherwise seems under control. That would not have worked here as his lower leg probably would have died before reaching medical attention.

    Bill Helvestine
    Skipper SC50 Deception
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2018 California Offshore Sailing Week: A Preview started by Photoboy View original post