Medical dispatch from MOAS: a Sea Rescue

Phoenix set sail Wednesday for its third mission of the year. Since August, MOAS missions have saved lives through onboard rescue, by reporting distressed boat locations and rescue assists.

When we spot foundering boats through our drones or with binoculars, we radio the information to Italian authorities and wait for instructions. When told to assist the migrants, we dispatch our Rigid InflatableBoats (RIBs) to the vessel.The first priority is to calm the migrants down. Panicked passengers can capsize a boat by rushing to one side of it. Though some of the passengers know how to swim, many are too weak due to dehydration.

The RIB teams distribute life jackets and medically assess the situation. Women, their children, and those needing immediate medical care have priority boarding on the RIBs, which take them to Phoenix. More able-bodied passengers follow, until the endangered ship is empty.

Once aboard Phoenix, crew members separate the men from the women and children. They distribute clean nappies, bedpans, and bottled water.

The medical team isolates and examines ailing passengers. Most complain of dehydration. The chemical burns people get on the migrant vessel from hours of standing in leaked petrol are terrible.

On our last mission, the team treated a woman having an asthma attack, isolated a man being treated for tuberculosis and monitored a pregnant woman. The crew has to be prepared for anything.

Phoenix maintains contact with the authorities throughout this whole process. Authorities are apprised of all medical situations and developments. In one situation, a specialist was dispatched to care for a profoundly disabled child.

MOAS missions have saved 753 lives this way.

Adding in location reporting and rescue assists, MOAS missions have saved over 2200 lives. So far.

As I write this, Italian authorities have just asked Phoenix to locate a nearby dinghy with approximately 75 passengers. Our camcopters are on the way. Our medical team is ready.