Doctor swims across to help save sailor's injured finger

Onboard the Oyster 53 Tallulah of Falmouth sailing in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, 55-year-old crewmember Ron Parker suffered a severe injury to his finger late on Tuesday 30 November.

In the rolling Atlantic swell, his finger was crushed as the heavy insulated freezer top fell back, breaking the bone and causing a nasty wound. Ron was treated onboard, and remote medical advice was obtained from the International Marine Emergency Centre in Rome. However, with the yacht still at least six days out from St.Lucia, there was a significant risk that Ron might lose his finger.

Skipper Fred Neale also contacted ARC organisers World Cruising Club, to pass on a request for additional medical supplies from other yachts close to their position. Via the ARC Fleet Net, several yachts responded, and on Wednesday afternoon the Italian Sweden 45 Marival met with Tallulah to transfer supplies of sterile dressings and extra painkillers. Later that afternoon, they were joined by the German Hallberg Rassy 53 Jasika IV who had a surgeon and a nurse on board.

Owing to the sea state, Dr Gerhard Trömer and his assistant Edger Willie, then swam across to Tallulah, complete with a mobile sterile operating unit. They were then able to set the broken bone and stitch up the wound to Ron’s finger.

As a result of their efforts the chance of infection is greatly diminished and the prospects of saving the finger much improved.