1706b Naval service operations in the mediterranean: a medical battlefield?


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Abstract

Since early 2015 the Irish state has been deploying Naval Ships to the Mediterranean to conduct humanitarian search and rescue operations in order to assist with the migrant crisis. Three ships are rotated per year and as of 23 Oct Oct 2017, the Irish Naval Service have rescued 17 404 migrants, dealt with seventy-eight fatalities and delivered two babies onboard their ships. The scale of the operation is unprecedented for any ship, as are the harsh realities of fatalities, and the shock of delivering a baby onboard a warship. In his presentation, Lt Cdr Geraghty provides an overview of the region, discusses the actors operating in the region. He then describes Irish Naval Service operations along with an overview of medical services provided. Finally, he presents four case studies where he describes: a typical day rescuing migrants, the delivery of a baby by an EMT, a mass casualty event where between 200 and 300 people drowned in front of a ship, and finally he describes how ship crews have to deal with decomposing bodies in sweltering heat. In his presentation Lt Cdr Geraghty argues that, as a battlefield is ‘a place or situation of strife or conflict’, Irish Naval Ships are operating in a medical battlefield. This unique working environment has presented many challenges to the occupational medicine service delivered to the crew of the Irish Naval Ships.

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