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26 October 2005, 11:20 am
Final Preparations
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

As the start of the Volvo Ocean Race gets closer and closer, teams are making sure that vital preparation is being completed. One essential is that at least two crew members have medical training. Team ABN AMRO packed off two from each boat to school.
On board medics Jan DEKKER, Justin SLATTERY, Simeon TIENPONT and George PEET spent two days in the Netherlands doing their medic training. Practicing on actors, each other and pieces of supermarket meat, they managed to simulate some of the real-life conditions they might face at sea.

SLATTERY, the second bowman of ABN AMRO ONE, has already assisted fellow crew. 'In the last race I had to stitch a wound on somebody's forehead,' said SLATTERY. 'Of course it's not easy to stitch a wound with the boat riding the waves; two of the other guys had to hold me. Then I was able to put the needle in the right place!'

Once in school, the programme consisted of theory, followed by practical simulations. These include hypothermia, broken bones and wounds that need stitching. Crew members in past races have had severe accidents, and the possibility is always there that the on-board medic will face a serious situation at sea. Combined with the medical briefing and instruction given by the Volvo Ocean Race Medical Team of Timo MALINEN, Mark TOMSON and Tim SPALDING, these courses provide the best possibility of a satisfactory outcome when an incident arises at sea and hospitals are far away.

For PEET of ABN AMRO TWO, the simulated injuries in the course were the most valuable experience of the training. 'Having a severed finger or breaking a bone can happen on a boat and as a medic you must be able to react fast.'

DEKKER, bowman of ABN AMRO ONE, has been an onboard medic for years. This is his fourth course. 'You are obliged to take this course every two years, which is good. You tend to forget many things and, as we are not real doctors, we don't do this everyday.'

However if they run into really serious problems, they do have access to doctors through the Volvo Ocean Race's medical team. 'Navigator Stan HONEY has some medic skills and could help us. Besides that we have a direct line with the Volvo Ocean Race doctor on shore,' said DEKKER. Race doctors are available 24 hours a day to assist via email or satellite phone.

If just about everything else aboard the boats is pared to the limit to keep weight down, the medical kit is an exception and has been supplied to a specification carefully compiled by the Volvo Ocean Race medical team. Three big waterproof cases - colour co-ordinated in orange, yellow and grey, so it is easy to identify the case and its contents, plus a traction splint - make up the medical supplies. 'If somebody is injured and needs treatment during a long leg like Wellington to Rio, we will have enough medicine, serum, needles and bandages, to treat the person until we get to port,' said SLATTERY.

'The only exception,' explained DEKKER, 'is equipment to immobilize patients. We have leg and arm splints, but don't have a stretcher. In this case we have to improvise and use whatever tools we have on board.'

'This medic course in combination with the sea survival training we recently had in the UK gives us a very good insight on how to deal with emergencies that we can face at sea,' concluded PEET. 'I'm pretty confident that I can help others and myself in case something happens to us.'

For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.

Event Media. Image, ABN AMRO ONE and TWO in training:© Jon Nash Photography
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