Kite surfing is a dangerous sport for the teeth


3 May 2010

To compromise a family vacation at Saint Brandon is really simple. The archipelagos are so isolated in the middle of the Indian Ocean, that a tiny incident can become serious in a couple of seconds.

Basile, 11 years old, wanted to tap the hand of her brother who was kite surfing. A slap of wind and there’s Basile with dental braces torn away, a large hole in the forehead and terrified parents.

Aboard their luxurious catamaran, the fist aid kit is not enough. Armand, the administrator of Saint Brandon, and a good friend of Tara’s crew calls us on the VHF: “Tara, we have someone injured, can you come take a look?”

With a safety vest and two suitcases with emergency supplies, Mathilde and Baptiste jump into the inflatable boat and race down to the southern islands. “When we arrived, there was a lot of blood!” recounts Mathilde “one saw that the wound was deep and the best would be to take her on board Tara”. With a half-turn and full-throttle, our ocean ambulance returns, with the young wounded and her father. “During the arctic expedition, we had doctors on board, but on this round, we’re navigating on marine international mode,” explains Hervé, the skipper. “All of the crew on Tara have been instructed as “assistants” for doctors on land. It’s the Hospital Purpan at Toulouse, which is always ready to respond 24 hours a day”.

Mathilde sends a photo of the wound and Hervé receives instructions from a doctor by telephone: “here it’s not possible for helicopter evacuation, so one had to do it on the spot”. That is the theory. “When you are faced with the wound, that is something else: you tell yourself there’s a problem… one sees the bone!” Basile is put under local anesthesia with a series of small injections.

Nurse Mathilde relates: “this is the painful part. At the beginning, the solution penetrates with difficulty around the cut. Afterwards it desensitizes rapidly.” “Fortunately there were two of us” adds Hervé, “it’s super important to hand over instruments and make the knots…” Making knots… that’s something, which our sailors know.

Impossible to affix simple Band-Aids, the injury is too deep, it needs to be sutured. Doctor Hervé takes a very fine thread (to avoid leaving a big facial scar) and makes a first suture.

Basile is very calm; it’s her father who is nervous. “Don’t worry Dad, it’s fine…” The tough kid in a bathing suit doesn’t flinch during the three sutures. Hervé finishes by carefully cleaning up the cut “in the tropics, one has to be wary of eventual infections.”

At the end, the valiant victim climbs up on Tara’s deck with a smile. She approaches Armand: “Do you think that will leave a big scar?”  The mischievous Mauritian: “Ah yes, it’s sure to be a big one”. The brave convalescent: “ Oh yeah terrific!”

Sacha Bollet