Two Evacuations and Lifesaving Surgery

Coordinating an emergency medical evacuation on your own is a difficult thing to do — and being prepared for a serious incident is a key part of emergency planning. If you’re ever in a situation where you need a medical evacuation, a Divers Alert Network membership would be a very good thing to have. While DAN is best known for helping divers, its emergency evacuation benefit can cover non-diving-related emergencies as well.

After long careers in the U.S. government, DAN members Sandy and Larry were stoked to live out their retirement dream of spending the winter months cruising and diving from their 42-foot sailboat.

While anchored off George Town’s Sand Dollar Beach in the Exumas, Sandy started suffering from extreme lower-back pain on her left side. She was nauseated from the pain, and she feared a kidney stone. Larry and Sandy were also cruising with friends on another boat and radioed them to alert them of the situation. Sandy took some medication to ease the pain and eventually fell asleep. Larry wasn’t sure what to do, as the closest hospital was in Nassau — a three-day sail away.

Then it struck Larry: He could call DAN. Larry and his wife were longtime members and relied on DAN for help with dive emergencies — but DAN can be a lifesaving resource in other medical situations, too.

Larry connected with a DAN medic and together they discussed the situation and a plan of action. DAN coordinated Sandy’s evacuation to Nassau and her transportation from the airport. Their friends agreed to watch the sailboat.

Once at the hospital, Sandy was diagnosed with a large kidney stone that would not pass naturally. However, the hospital had limited treatment options and would only accept credit card or cash payment — not their insurance. Fearing astronomical medical bills, Larry talked to DAN again and asked about medical options stateside. The DAN medical specialist agreed evacuation to Miami would be the best course of action. Given the severity of her condition, DAN organized a flight to Miami and transportation to the local hospital.

The second evacuation proved necessary: Sandy required emergency surgery. Her blood pressure had dropped, and the kidney stone was blocking her ureter. Sandy developed sepsis, an infection in the bloodstream, and her organs were shutting down. Had surgery been delayed another 12 hours, Sandy would have died.

Sandy remained in the hospital for three days post-surgery to get the infection under control. Three weeks after the incident, Sandy was cleared to fly again, and DAN helped the couple with arrangements to get back to their boat in George Town. DAN also checked on them several times to see how they were doing.

“We are so grateful to have received such excellent care, and we appreciate DAN being so helpful in getting us to the right place in time,” said Larry. “The service, genuine concern and professional expertise DAN provided is something rare in today’s environment of automated answering systems.”

For only US$40 per year for an individual or US$60 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 across the globe, DAN ensures you get to enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime trip. Learn more about the benefits of being a DAN member.