Securing urgent medical evacuation: IMO

2022-01-15 16:28:52 Trade Bodies (World Marine)

On 14 May 2020, IMO received information about an emergency situation onboard a cargo vessel at anchor. A chief officer was suffering tremendous pain due to a swelling that was spreading from his gum to the left side of his face and part of his neck. 

The vessel and charterer had requested a doctor visit to the ship five days earlier, but this was refused by custom authorities on the basis of COVID-related restrictions.

a doctor confirmed that emergency surgery was needed

During a video consultation, a doctor confirmed that emergency surgery was needed, as the risk of sepsis was very high. The seafarer's health was deteriorating every day, and he was already very weak and unable to move.

Further attempts by the ship's Master to secure medical evacuation were unsuccessful. Port authorities refused to allow the seafarer to disembark to receive the urgent medical care he needed, due to the 14-day quarantine requirements and because no quarantine hotels were available to host him. 

His colleagues and the Master on board were fearful for the seafarer's life

. "It is very difficult to understand, that in such dangerous situation there is no proper support to save the life of a human", one colleague wrote in a message that was transferred to IMO.

After being informed about the case, IMO's Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) immediately intervened, in cooperation with ICS and ITF, and contacted focal points of the port State and the seafarer's home State. Intense discussions and good collaboration helped resolve the case rapidly. 

On 15 May, one day after IMO was informed of the situation, the SCAT got confirmation that the seafarer had been able to disembark and was being transferred to a hotel.

As long as the COVID-19 test result was negative, he would be taken to hospital for the surgery he urgently needed.​

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