During operation of a ship, it is very likely one or two crew members are getting sick. Due to illness or accident onboard. When the illness is getting serious, then an emergency status is raised. There is no other options for the ship’s Master to call nearest port in order to have a proper medical treatment for the sick crews.
This is what happen to EuroGlory. A crude oil tanker serving the line between Singapore and Malaysia. During her voyage near Batam island, one of her crew members was having a stroke based on initial guess. Which result in breathing difficulty and must be assisted with a respirator. The owner called Batam Shipping Agency some time around midnight, asked if the agent could do a medical evacuation for the crew in urgent manner. We treat this order as an emergency call. We worked fast, coordinating with all related parties. Including port authority, pilot, Port Health Office and the last but not the least, hospitals.
Within two hours after midnight, we had permission for the vessel to enter Batam waters. We sent to ship’s Master the coordinates where the ship to drop anchor. Unfortunately, after contacting some hospitals in Batam, it was found most of hospitals were full and could not accept more patients. When the sun rise, we had a good news, one hospital was available to receive our emergency patient. We directly contacted launch boat operator, medical personnel and ambulance to standby at jetty to receive the patient.
During the evacuation, We treated this patient in a very cautious manner. We did not have idea what is the cause of his sickness, although the initial assumption was that the crew had a stroke. Moreover, this incident occurred amidst the pandemic which forced us to implement strict health protocols. But after proper medical treatment and PCR test in the hospital, there is no evidence that sickness is caused by Covid-19. Within few days of intensive treatment, there was a progress the patient condition is getting better. He needs to be hospitalized for a next few days until fit enough to be repatriated to his home country.
The key of success in this medevac operation is fast action and coordination. Batam Shipping Agency did both very well. Even during semi lockdown situation which is not easy to work fast compared with normal situation. However, because we know what to do and how to do it, and have a close relationship with the authorities, Batam Shipping Agency can carry out this task incredibly well.