While planning our three year, sailing adventure on a fifty foot catamaran, my husband Scott and I felt we had all our bases covered: boat-check, home schooling-check, route-check, provisioning-check, electronics-check, but, unfortunately, when it came to our medical care solution there was a big, fat hole. This made me, a mother of three very active boys ages 5, 9, and 11, not to mention being married to an extremely injury prone husband, incredibly nervous; nervous to the point of rethinking our entire plan. Was fulfilling our dream of sailing the world for three years worth putting our family's wellbeing in jeopardy?
Then, in walks MedAire. While frantically searching the net last winter for some sort of solution we stumbled across MedAire's website. It seemed too good to be true. Not only do they provide the medical kits needed for a trip such as ours, but training to go along with it. The best part, doctors are ready to assist anywhere, at any time via satellite phone to MedAire's 7/24 call center, MedLink. An added bonus, they keep all of our medical as well as important travel information, copies of passports, birth certificates, in their database for easy access. This will allow us an extra layer of security as we travel between different countries.
On July 28th, a day after our family arrived in Ft Lauderdale to start outfitting our boat with the final necessities for the voyage, Scott and I began a three-day intensive training session that ended in an additional half day of training with our three boys. Renee Kempf, our instructor, began with a general overview of what we were to expect during the next few days. Then, we moved to an overview of basic anatomy and a description of the major systems of our bodies. Even my EMT husband admitted he learned a lot. Renee was patient and is obviously an extremely knowledgeable as well as a gifted trainer. We went over CPR and acted out real life scenarios such as, Scott is unconscious on the front deck so what should we do? While one of the boys raises MedLink on the satellite phone for assistance, I check to see if he is breathing and then administer CPR. No pulse? Then maybe we need the defibrillator. He regains consciousness, then it would help to administer oxygen, and so on. We covered inserting IVs, suturing (pigs feet, darn I didn't get to practice on Scott), burn treatment, fevers, food poisoning, bites and stings from dangerous and not so dangerous animals, breaks, sprains, spinal injuries, tourniquets, rashes, and much more. All of this training comes with the knowledge that we will have doctors and experts available to us 24/7 for advice and guidance.
The boys' favorite part of training was practicing abdominal thrusts used to aid choking victims. Renee had a contraption for training that would propel Nerf like bullets into the air when you accomplished the procedure correctly. Lots of fun! They asked if they could keep the training tool
After three and a half days of Renee's guidance, a peace of mind and a feeling of empowerment came upon me to which there is no comparison. We can do this trip and be safe. I can take care of my husband and kids in an emergency if necessary. We can do this and have experts behind us the whole way. Phew... Thanks Renee and thanks MedAire. I hope I never have to talk with you in the next three years, (well Renee, only if it is to visit for fun) but, if I do, I feel certain we will have the tools, and the expertise of the MedAire staff behind us, to help guide us through any challenge. Boy voyage!
Right now, the boat is in a marina in Fort Lauderdale area. Scott will be moving to the boat in June to oversee the final preparations. The rest of the family will arrive late June - when the boys finish school.
Leg 1: Depart Florida by July 8th, and head to the Dominican Republic, July 24th, were Scott will be the keynote speaker of a conference at the Casa de Campo Resort. This will take us through the Bahamas, Caicos Islands and then to Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, this will end up being a fairly quick trip.
Leg 2: Depart Dominican Republic at the end of July and make our way toward the South Caribbean is a fairly deliberate manner. We will bump around in the South Caribbean until the end of hurricane season, sometime in November.
Leg 3: From November 2011 to May of 2012, we will slowly head back North through the windward a leeward islands, then West to Central America, spending a good amount of time in Belize, then to Panama to get to the Pacific Ocean by early June.
This was a two day trip from Fort Lauderdale to Key Largo, where TLB will rest for a few months before we take her to the Bahamas. We has a bit of excitement getting her out of Fort Lauderdale; strong current and winds, plus my first time at the helm, made for a very stressful 1.5 hours. Trying to hold the boat in the middle of a channel, waiting for a bridge, was not fun. Unfortunately, we were all to intense to get a good photos of going whole Fort Lauderdale part of the trip.