An Accident at Sea

For some adventure seekers, sailing among tropical islands is a must-do bucket list item. Surrounded by the sea, the sky, and lush green islands, it’s a chance to unplug and feel the wind on your face. But accidents don’t take vacations, and it’s smart to be prepared for anything, no matter where in the world you go.

If you’re ever in a situation where you need emergency medical evacuation, Divers Alert Network membership has you covered. While DAN is best known for helping divers, its emergency evacuation benefit can cover non-diving-related emergencies as well.

DAN members Stan and Lynn set sail on a 400-mile voyage to Roatan on December 30. They had sailed 300 of those miles when they ran into deteriorating weather, a series of squalls and confused seas.

During one of the squalls, at 3 a.m. on Jan. 2, Lynn missed a handhold and fell backward as the boat lurched, striking the back of her head. An injury at sea was not how they wanted to ring in the New Year.

Lynn did not lose consciousness, but from the force of the blow they knew her injury might be serious. Stan checked for bleeding, arranged a pillow for Lynn on the floor and told her to stay put until the squall had subsided. After about 15 minutes Stan was able to return to the cabin and assist Lynn into their bunk. The nearest hospital was on the Colombian island Providencia, but it would be more than a day before they could get anchored and have her checked out there. In the hours that followed she had severe headaches, which they managed as well as they could.

When they made it ashore on Providencia, they got her to a hospital and called DAN to inform them that they might need some support. CT scans revealed internal bleeding, and Lynn was admitted to the hospital. Within a day or two it became clear that local medical facilities would not be sufficient to address Lynn’s injuries, and she would need to be medically escorted back home to Canada.

Stan called DAN again, and DAN medical staff and the local neurologist determined it was medically necessary to send a paramedic to escort her back home to Calgary, Canada. DAN made and covered all the evacuation arrangements and authorized Stan to pay for local transportation between the Colombian islands (one of the puddle-jumper pilots would only take cash). He kept the tickets and all the receipts, and a few weeks after they were back in Canada DAN reimbursed Stan and Lynn for their expenses.

In the aftermath of the event, Stan said reported that Lynn was doing well — in spite of the fact that the doctors in Providencia and San Andrés as well as the neurologist in Calgary all confirmed the hit Lynn took to her head could have killed her. “Thanks, DAN, for the incredible support you gave us during this difficult and stressful time,” he said. “I cannot remember how many times I talked to DAN on the phone, but they were always there for me.”

For only US$35 per year for an individual or US$55 per year for a family, DAN takes the guesswork out of emergency logistics. Once a member calls the 24/7 hotline, DAN arranges whatever care is needed — including an evacuation if necessary. Behind the scenes, DAN specialists coordinate medical care and transportation with local agencies, and in dive emergencies, DAN medical staff can even consult with local physicians who may not be familiar with dive medicine.

With more than 40 years of experience managing emergencies in remote locations, DAN is much more than an insurance company. Learn more about the benefits of being a DAN member.