My Life as a Traveler

Watching the Medical Emergency

It’s day two at sea and there’s more of the same on tap. Sleep in, a quick breakfast, then Latin Fitness at 930am, then yoga up on the deck.

On our second day at sea, there are more people sunning themselves next to my yoga spot this morning. I’m a little self-conscious to be doing yoga while the white Russians next to me are working on their sunburn, but I’ve got my headphones on and my favorite yoga podcaster, Elsie at Elsie’s Yoga Kula is encouraging me to stay just a bit longer in pigeon pose. I’m thinking they really need a seagull pose as I watch the birds fly overhead when I hear the captain’s voice over the intercom. “We have a medical emergency.” Oh my, deja vu.

I flash back to lying in the hospital bed just six months ago on the Diamond Princess and I say a prayer for the person who’s in the ship’s infirmary. I’m a little ashamed to say that I’m thoroughly thankful that it’s not me this time. The captain announces that a helicopter is coming to evacuate a passenger who requires more medical attention than the ship can offer. I stop Elsie’s podcast and gravitate toward the railing. From my position on the smokestack deck, I have a perfect view of the drama that is about to unfold.

A red and white helicopter appears from the direction of the mainland and hovers over the other high deck of the ship. The ship is still cruising forward and the helicopter pilot keeps pace. Slowly the helicopter gets closer to the ship. Is it going to land? It’s not clear. More and more people crowd the rail to see what’s going to happen. The helicopter is still hovering over the water, not the ship. Suddenly, a line is dropped from the helicopter and caught by an unseen crew member. The helicopter seems to be tethered to the ship. Then a guy (or gal) jumps out of the helicopter and ziplines down to our boat. Wow. A basket follows.

For what seems like a long time, the helicopter hovers alongside the ship, attached by a rope like a balloon to a child’s wagon. Then we see the basket again. There’s a person in the basket this time and they’re being hoisted up to the helicopter. Geez, I hope the person didn’t have a heart condition, because hovering 15 stories over the water in a basket on a rope connected to a helicopter is not my idea of calming care. After some finagling, the basket is back in the heli and I’m sure it’s not just me who’s wondering how the first guy (or gal) is going to get back up there. More minutes pass and it looks like the cable has gone slack, but just for a minute. Next thing you know there are two people, our first guy (or gal) and another person who is hugging his midsection for all they’re worth being hoisted up to the helicopter. The helicopter, now released from the ship, slowly moves away as the two people are being pulled up. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief as the helicopter closed it’s doors and circled above us on it’s way back to land.

Supremely thankful that there are services like this available, I head back to my cabin, hoping that the person who got the helicopter ride had insurance and, more importantly, was going to get the help they needed. I believe that if they had travel insurance, the helicopter ride and zipline experience would have been covered, as well as their $8,000 daily bill in the infirmary, and any other medical costs they will incur back in Spain.

After that, everything else seemed somewhat more brighter. Got George to a merengue class, read some more of my book, had a nice steam, dinner, and show. Early to bed, though, we have a special excursion planned tomorrow in Madeira.

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