A Guide to Medical Evacuation and Repatriation

By DAN Boater

Have you achieved your dream of spending weeks or months at sea? Have you been planning a long distance cruise around America's Great Loop, or are the Caribbean islands more your speed?

For boaters new to long-distance boating, the dream of being the captain at the helm on a voyage down the Mississippi or island-hopping in the Bahamas is something you may have waited decades to achieve. As an experienced boater, you know that preparation is everything.

Before charting your next long-distance boating course or dive, it's a good idea to have access to services that you can trust - services that will get you out of a jam and maybe even save your life.

Search and Rescue

Most people never expect the worst to happen. Take, for example, the infamous story of Terry Jo Duperrault, an eleven year old girl from Green Bay, who in 1961 survived four days at sea all alone after her family's boating trip to the Bahamas turned tragic. When the authorities were alerted that the boat she was on, "Bluebelle," had sunk, they launched a search and rescue (SAR) operation to find survivors. This is when a search uses aircraft and boats (such as the Coast Guard) to conduct an air-sea rescue over water. The young girl was eventually found floating on a cork raft with webbing by a Greek merchant vessel. She was the only family member to survive.

Medical Evacuation

Also referred to as medevac, a medical evacuation is when an individual needs to be removed from an area with the help of medical personnel. The job here is to provide a way out for the individual, whether by boat if at sea, or by plane or helicopter if by land. If you happen to be at sea and one of the passengers bursts their appendix, they will need to be medically evacuated to a hospital.

Medical Repatriation

Repatriation is a term unfamiliar to most travelers. That's probably because people are often deceased when they're repatriated. Medical repatriation usually involves the return of an individual's body to a specific location, such as a funeral home or cremation facility in their home country. Depending on the distance involved, a person's body can be transported by ambulance, sea vessel, aircraft or a combination of these.

However, medical repatriation also refers to when a patient is returned home to receive medical care. This is different from a medical evacuation because an evacuation is always an emergency and the patient is evacuated to the nearest equipped medical facility. On the other hand, medical repatriation is not typically an emergency. You could be treated for an emergency at a local hospital and then repatriated home for follow up care.

At DAN Boater, we handle an average of two medical evacuations a week, so we know just how important it is to have these kinds of survival services at your fingertips. With decades of experience, we offer an annual membership to access the services described above. We have a 24-hour hotline, so you know that the help you need is only a phone call away. To learn more about sailing the seven seas in safety, explore our site and read some of our riveting search and rescue stories.

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