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Cardiac Scare in the Caribbean


Tue Oct 23 12:25:19 EDT 2018
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Marilyn Sharpe and Kent Wall

Marilyn Sharpe and her husband, Kent Wall, are self-described ‘boat people.’ The couple has homes in Indianapolis and Los Angeles, but spends many months each year on their motor vessel, a 56-foot trawler, cruising in remote islands of the Caribbean Sea.

Due to the amount of time they spend cruising, the couple began to investigate companies that provide emergency air ambulance services to boaters.   

“We were thrilled to discover Global Rescue, which provides both rescue and evacuation services and air ambulance transport back to the States if more specialized services are needed,” Marilyn said.

Fast forward to April 2018.   Aboard their motor vessel, CARDEA, Marilyn and Kent were anchored off the coast of the island of Curacao, close to Venezuela.

“My husband awoke that morning with mild upper back pain, extreme fatigue and mild burning in his chest,” recalled Marilyn. “We were immediately concerned as these symptoms were similar to what he experienced 22 years ago when he suffered a major heart attack, so we were vigilant.”

Marilyn began making phone calls on the island to investigate medical resources and facilities.  “As kind as they were, all with whom I spoke could not give me information about the kind of cardiac emergency services that were available on the island.”

It was at that moment that Marilyn thought to call Global Rescue.

“As soon as I reached Global Rescue, I knew we were in excellent hands and we had made a solid choice in subscribing to their services,” she said.

A Global Rescue nurse who took Marilyn’s call immediately walked her through a history and diagnostic session with Kent and made recommendations for prophylactic treatment of myocardial infarction symptoms.  The nurse explained that she would investigate resources on Curacao and follow up with Marilyn shortly.

“Within 10 minutes, the Global Rescue nurse called back,” said Marilyn. “She had identified the cardiologist on call at the hospital, determined the extent of cardiac services they could provide, and informed me that the physician was standing by prepared to receive an emergency call from us at any time.   She gave us his cell phone number for direct contact and consultation, and also passed on his recommendation that Kent come in immediately for an EKG, even if it was not an emergency,” Marilyn said. “We were overwhelmingly relieved and thrilled to have such support, knowledge and contact information available to us.”  The Global Rescue nurse called back a few hours later to check on Kent.  

“By that time, the pain had gone away and we did not feel the need to trigger emergency care. Nonetheless, the next morning we got another follow up call from Global Rescue to check on us and ask if we needed any additional assistance,” she recalled. “So, it turned out to be an urgent but not an emergent issue.  However, when you have cardiovascular disease and have had heart attacks, you can never feel sure about the symptoms.”

Marilyn and Kent immediately booked flights back to the States, where Kent was able to receive care from his US-based cardiologist.

“What was most stunningly reassuring to us was the competence and attentiveness of the staff of Global Rescue.  We had no idea that we would have access to immediate medical expertise a phone call away.  We had no idea that they would have the know-how to research and obtain critical information about local resources and give us the cell phone number of someone whom we later learned is the most respected cardiologist in the Dutch Caribbean.  Nor did we expect to have such attentive follow-up, including from people on later shifts.  We were ‘WOW’ed,” Marilyn noted.

The couple intends to continue to explore the islands of the Caribbean. They are planning a trip in November to the remote San Blas islands of the Guna Yala Nation, off the coast of Panama.  Their children have always been reluctant to have them travel there because of the lack of any emergency services in the area.

“We want to live our dream,” said Marilyn. “With the knowledge that we have Global Rescue available to us if we get in trouble, we have had a burden lifted and we will pursue our dreams with much greater confidence and with kids who are greatly reassured.”

 



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