Rescue: The SNSM of Saint-Martin asked by the CROSS-AG to rescue a skipper suffering from illness aboard his catamaran 


The SNSM of Saint-Martin was requested, last Saturday, in the early evening (18:55 p.m.), by the CROSS-AG (Regional Operational Center for the Rescue and Protection of the Antilles-Guyana) to rescue a catamaran whose skipper has suddenly lost consciousness.

The skipper-owner of a 51-foot catamaran en route from the Virgin Islands to Saint-Martin suffered from malaise. He collapsed suddenly while in the cockpit. In his fall, his head hit the deck and he lost consciousness.

His companion, the only other person on board, calls for help on VHF channel 16, and the CROSS-AG first transmits a “Mayday Relay” in order to know if any nearby ships can come. 'aid. The CROSS-AG finally assigned the SNSM of Saint-Martin to meet the catamaran located 18 nautical miles, north-west of Saint-Martin.

The crew made up of 8 volunteers then prepared the SNS 129 Notre-Dame de la Garoupe boat, the only boat available (note: the Rescue Star, semi-rigid is out of service for repair of the burst starboard flange) which sets sail at 19:30 p.m. A doctor, a firefighter and an ambulance driver being part of the volunteers, the CROSS-AG gives the green light to go to the area, without waiting for an additional medical team from the SAMU.

Forty-five minutes later, SNS 129 was in the area. The latter approaches the catamaran on its starboard, in order to make a transhipment and transfer 4 crew members and their medical equipment. 

This maneuver, delicate for two ships at sea, is successfully carried out! Two crew members will immediately take care of the victim, while the other two take over the boat and continue on their way to Saint-Martin.

According to initial information, the skipper fell into a very narrow space and received a big blow to the head; his companion managed to put him in PLS (Lateral Safety Position). The captain is still unconscious and breathing heavily. He is immediately placed under oxygen and a complete check-up is carried out. The “medical” team members consider that it is too difficult to extract him from his position, because the man weighs more than 120 kg, his transfer to the SNS 129 being considered too risky.

They therefore all remain on board the catamaran and move forward as best they can, on a single engine with a headwind, towards Marigot at an average speed of 7 to 8 knots.

Under the effect of pure oxygen, the victim regains consciousness quickly and is able to answer very summary questions.

SNS 129 sets sail for Marigot where it arrives at the quay at 21:30 p.m. then the team members walk to the ferry terminal to wait for the catamaran to dock at 21:55 p.m. Twenty minutes later, the firefighters are on site and extract the victim, on a shell mattress, before transferring her to the hospital Louis-Constant Fleming at 22:45 p.m.

The SNSM station of Saint-Martin wishes a quick recovery to the victim of this accident, and congratulates his companion for having shown composure by immediately calling for help by radio, then by staying the course for Saint-Martin, until help arrives, while taking care of his companion, injured and unconscious.

It is our turn to congratulate the eight volunteer team members of the SNSM  of Saint-Martin who brilliantly accomplished their mission. _AF

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