ClipperTelemed+ medic, Elaine Hargreaves, talks about her experience participating in the medical training led by PRAXES and ClipperTelemed+ in June 2015 to prepare Clipper Race crew for medical emergencies.
Based in Reading, UK, Dr. Elaine Hargreaves holds a PHD in Chemistry, worked as Engagement Manager at Microsoft and is an experienced mountain trekker. Hargreaves was searching for a new challenge and left home in August to take on the vitally important role as the ClipperTelemed+ yacht medic in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 2015 – 16. She is the medic for the full duration of the race and is thrilled to be competing in this life-changing adventure. In June 2015, Hargreaves and the ClipperTelemed+ crew members participated in medical training led by PRAXES and ClipperTelemed+ Medical Director, Dr. John Ross. She shared her impressions of the experience with us and her thoughts on the exciting year ahead.
What inspired you to get involved with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race?
Well, the story starts a few years ago. I lost my stepfather after a 25 year battle with cancer and a few months after this happened, I was looking for a new challenge. I’ve done a lot of mountain climbing in the past including Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest base camp and I wanted to do something completely different. A friend of mine inspired me when she bought a boat and sailed it to the Mediterranean and a few years ago, when I did my MBA, we did about two weekends worth of sailing training and races with other colleges. I literally started searching the internet for “yacht races” and the Clipper Race, which I’d never heard of before, was at the top of that search. I applied for the brochure and two Christmases ago, I talked to my mom and said I was going to do it. In early 2014, I sent off my form and had an interview and the rest is history. I’ve been preparing ever since. I started my Clipper Race training from novice last August and did my Level 1 and in October completed Level 2 and in 2015 completed my Level 3 and 4. Now, I’m ready to go and I signed up for the whole of it!
You participated in the medical training led by PRAXES and ClipperTelemed+ Medical Director, Dr. John Ross. What were your impressions of this training? Do you think these skills will be helpful over the duration of the race?
The training far exceeded my expectations and one of the reasons why was that we examined case studies from previous races. It was very focused on real life cases that might come up. We went through how to treat people who might be sick or injured and went through the on-board medical kit. We had hands-on experience with real medical equipment doing everything from suturing a pig’s trotter to putting an IV on Dr. Ross and we had the opportunity to ask a ton of different questions. We also went on the boat for the second half of the course and acted out real life scenarios again. I think that knowing that the case studies were real got me really thinking about my role on-board and preparing for what could happen.
As the ClipperTelemed+ medic, you will play a vital role supporting the crew’s well-being. Were there specific elements of the training that you found useful?
For me, the preventable aspects were so engaging. As the medic, you want to keep the crew hydrated, wearing sunscreen and safe at all times. You want them to look after themselves, keep healthy and keep clean. That being said, we will be out in the middle of the ocean and the yacht will definitely be tipping to the side and going through extreme situations. I think the case studies helped me to think about calming down a crew member in the event of an incident, relieving their pain and using what you have at your disposal to treat them and reassure them. The case studies really showed that there is a method to dealing with each scenario. I think that’s where we were able to get the confidence that we would be prepared.
Do you feel that this training covered the many possible medical scenarios that could arise?
Dr. Ross acted out with us the possible scenarios of hemothorax, a collapsed lung, a head injury, a heart attack and broken bones among many others.There were some real-life scary scenarios in the last race and there was no holding back in the training. I was really glad because you want to be able to know what to do. We went through each scenario in detail. The other huge confidence builder is knowing that we’re not alone and that after accessing the situation and taking vitals, we will be on the phone with PRAXES and work with them remotely to treat the treat the patient.
The race began on August 30th and you have an exciting and challenging year ahead of you. What are you most looking forward to during this journey?
I want to try and just take each leg as it comes but I’m really enjoying those moments when we are far from shore and in the middle of the ocean. I had never crossed an ocean before and I’ve never been to Rio, so I am so excited and looking forward to those aspects among so many other things!