Q&A with Global Rescue’s surfing paramedic deployed to Indonesia

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June 15, 2009

Categories: In Action,

Global Rescue operations paramedic Grant Seivard recently returned from the remote Mentawais islands in Indonesia, accompanying a group of the world’s most elite surfers and some junior talent. We chatted with him briefly about his trip:

Q: Could you describe arriving at the location? When you left the airport, how did you finally end up off the coast of the archipelago?

A: So we hit the ground in Padang and it’s all hands on deck, get through customs, fend through the usual collection of locals who want to carry all your gear, for a tip, of course, and into the vans. The flow of traffic there is a little crazy! They drive on the left side of the road and the bikes and motorcycles seem to drive wherever they want. We pulled into a secured little compound and waited for what they call “tin boats” (just small outboard motorboats) to take us out to the island where the Trader IV is moored. Then you get a taste of the good life: crystal clear water, a super friendly crew and the anticipation of a great trip!

Q: What were some of the injuries you saw out there? How did you treat them?

A: I saw mostly minor injuries, some small abrasions and bumps and bruises. The worst injury by far was a 6-7cm laceration to the head, which required 22 staples. I also treated some minor infections from reef rash with some antibiotics.



Q: What do you think would have been the worst-case scenario? What might have necessitated a medical evacuation?

A: The worst-case scenario would be someone being rendered unconscious after striking the reef which would then be complicated by drowning. This scenario was very possible given the wave conditions and the shallow reef breaks so prevalent in the Mentawais.

Q: Considering that this was just a 12 day tour, how did the surfers react when they had to pause for an injury? Did it keep them out of the water?

A: Some of the surfers were sidelined for a bit with injuries, and as you can imagine, not so happy! I did everything I could to get these guys back in the water.

Q: How did this location stack up against California? Would you want to organize a surf trip out here in the future? If so, what would be your concerns?

A: The locations on this trip were all shallow reef breaks with very hollow waves. My home breaks have a little fatter wave, breaking on sandbars and finger reef. My home breaks in California don’t require as much skill and the take-offs are much less critical.

I consider myself a surfer and I have been out in some great waves but there were some days on this trip that I wouldn’t even consider paddling out. In terms of a vacation I think I would head back that way. There are so many breaks every kind of surfer should be able to find some fun waves.

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