Vol 69, No 2 (2018)
Case report
Published online: 2018-06-22

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Management of a polytrauma in the maritime environment

Cécile Montocchio-Buadès1, Maëlle Daurat1, Macha Ducombs2, Charles-Edouard Vallet2
Pubmed: 29939389
IMH 2018;69(2):126-128.


Background: A polytraumatised person is a severely injured patient with an association of several injuries
including at least one life-threatening. In an isolated and hostile environment like the maritime
environment, the principles of early care and fast evacuation of a polytraumatised person are sometimes
difficult to apply.

Clinical case: We report the story of a patient with a bilateral fracture of the lower extremities following an
accident on board a Moldavian tugboat off the coasts of Djibouti. He received a medical treatment thanks
to the intervention of a French military frigate after receiving a message of assistance by very high frequency,
and then a helicopter evacuation to the Medicine and Surgery “Bouffard” Hospital. The pre-hospital
care of a polytraumatised patients with limb injuries and the specificities of an intervention in a maritime
environment are described. The maritime international conventions relating to rescue at sea as well as
the specificities of the management of an injured person on a ship sailing under the Moldavian flag are
explained. Emphasis is placed on the importance of watchkeeping at sea and the presence on board of
trained first-aid personnel. Finally, a point is made on the French organisation of health support for ships,
through the Maritime Medical Consultation Centre and the Regional Operational Centres for Surveillance
and Rescue.

Conclusions: This case illustrates that the solidarity of the seafarers allows a seriously wounded person to
maintain, despite a degraded and isolated situation, the chances of successful management and preserve
the functional prognosis.

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