Medical emergency aboard the ship…Today, right back where we were in 2015…

We stood on our cabin’s veranda awaiting the arrival of this medevac helicopter to transport a heart attack patient from the ship to an appropriate hospital.

“Sighting on the Ship in Australia”

Can of tomato soup. Hmm, what’s the significance here?

Yesterday afternoon, while at sea, shortly after I’d watched another silly movie, the remake of Ghost Busters, I headed back to our cabin.  Tom was relaxing after he’d walked out of the movie only minutes after it had started. 

I knew this wasn’t his kind of movie, but I stayed in the theatre to watch it on my own when my taste in movies is slightly more tolerant than Tom’s. It was a ridiculous plot, but I always get a kick out of the special effects.

No more than a few moments after I opened my laptop to check email, I mentioned to Tom that the ship wasn’t moving. Checking to see what was going on, in no time at all we discovered there was a medical emergency onboard that required a passenger be airlifted by helicopter to hospital.

As the helicopter approached the ship to land on the ship’s helipad. 

A few hours earlier, we’d heard announcements from the bridge (in code) that something was amiss in the fitness center. As it turned out, from what we heard later, a man had a heart attack while working out.  He had to be revived. Frightening.

On a previous cruise on RC Legend of the Seas, June 10, 2015, on its way to Sydney, a similar situation had transpired requiring the patient be lifted in the basket when high seas prevented the helicopter from landing on the heli-pad on the ship’s bow. 

This is the third medical evacuation we’ve witnessed while cruising, twice by helicopter, once by the ship rerouting to Burmuda.  Please see photo below for the first helicopter evac. Here’s the link to our story.

Photo we’d posted on June 10, 2015 while we were cruising on Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas when a passenger also had to be evacuated, but in the basket when rough seas prevented the helicopter from landing on the ship’s helipad. The patient was wrapped in an exterior covering the basket with paramedic holding on to the passenger.  Scary.

With calm seas yesterday, the helicopter was able to land safely on the heli-pad which we weren’t able to see from our veranda, although we could see the touchdown from our TV that broadcasts a steady cam from the bow of the ship, as shown in this photo below.

It was heart wrenching to consider the worry and distress for the passenger and his spouse or travel companion with the necessity of being airlifted off the cruise. From what we’d heard, he’d been revived, but it was several hours later when the helicopter whisked him away to a hospital.

Based on the location of our cabin, we weren’t able to get close enough to the bow of the ship to see the helicopter land. Instead, we took this fuzzy photo of the TV display.

This further validates the value of travel insurance (which we have) when the cost for such evacuations can be outrageously expensive.  When passengers pass away on a cruise ship, the body is not evacuated instead being stored in an appropriate facility that most ships have available. 

In yesterday’s case, we can only pray for the passenger’s survival and return to health after being treated at whatever location he’d been transported. Of course, we’ll never hear and the scuttlebutt aboard the ship is unreliable.

Fortunately, the seas were calm and the helicopter was able to land. The ship had stopped during the rescue mission until the patient was safely in transit to the hospital.

We both researched online on a mission to discover how many cruise ship passengers are actually transported off ships for medical emergencies. We weren’t able to find any information or stats in this regard.  Perhaps cruise lines are particularly lax in providing such stats to avoid scaring travelers away from cruising.

As we age, this becomes more of a concern.  Not only is there the anxiety associated with a life threatening illness or injury a passenger may incur during a cruise, but loss of time in getting treated also adds the stress. 

Yesterday’s passenger wasn’t taking off on the helicopter until over five and a half hours later. We can only hope the doctor on the ship has sufficient knowledge and skill to keep the patient stable during this extended period.

The Medevac team preparing to land with medical personnel ready to get into action.

This is a reminder for all of us to have adequate travel insurance cover and to strive for the best possible health when choosing to travel. A high risk and/or elderly patient should seek medical advice prior to embarking on a cruise to ensure cruising is a suitable form of travel based on current health conditions.

Then again, many medical emergencies and accidents occur to passengers of all ages while on cruise ships, while on tours and when traveling to and from various points of interest. ‘This should be of the utmost consideration for possible travelers.

Today, we’re staying on the ship while it’s docked in Yorkeys Knob in Queensland, Australia. We lived in Trinity Beach adjoining this location for three months beginning on June 11, 2015. During that stay, we toured all the important sights, including many located in and around Cairns.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more new photos and stories as we continue on to Day 7 of this highly enjoyable 33-night cruise. 

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 5, 2015:

In the one year ago post, we re-posted a few memorable photos. We took this photo of Mount Kilimanjaro from the window of our tiny plane on our way to the Maasai Mara for a photo safari, one of many great experiences in our then three years of world travel. Please click here for more details.