Cruising, Obesity and Medevacs

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cruising, Obesity and Medevacs


By Chris Jarratt of Bariquins (August 2016)


Taking a holiday on a cruise ship is becoming more popular these days. The latest figures available show that, for the UK and Ireland, passenger numbers for ocean cruises have reached new heights. They have achieved a record total of 1,789,000 passengers in 2015 (Stats available here ). And that’s passengers from our local shores. There are also plenty of cruise ships visiting the shores of Britain with tourists from abroad.



The port of Southampton alone handled over one and a half million passengers in 2014 (Stats available here ) and could see an 11% increase on top of that. Add to that, the other docking areas around the British Isles and it takes it to nearer 2 million passengers a year.

If we take that near 2 million as a figure to work on, in terms of rates of obesity, where in Britain, it’s one in four adults are classed as obese (Stats here ), I’m talking around 500,000 obese passengers yearly. If we applied the US average rate of adult obesity where it’s slightly more than one adult in every three (Stats from here ), that’s around 700,000. As almost 52% of cruisers hail from the US and the UK & Ireland, the next highest cruise market, supplies only 8 percent of passengers, I should really be taking a figure nearer to 700,000 (More here ). For argument’s sake though, I’ll take the figure of a potential 650,000 obese people on cruises.

But that’s not the end of the statistical cooking pot. Figures show that the average age of a cruise passenger is 50+ years (See here ). Further research given to the British House of Commons reveals that those aged 55-64 are most likely to be obese (Info here ). These two last sets of data could theoretically push that estimated 650,000 of obese passengers a lot higher towards that near 2 million figure that enter the variuos ports around the British Isles each year.

            Whatever the final total is for the number of obese cruise passengers on ships in British waters, it cannot be argued that it is a potentially huge group of people who could face an emergency evacuation from the ship by helicopter. And that’s for two reasons. Firstly, being either overweight or obese is associated with a greater chance of suffering from other medical complaints such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases (Taken from here ). Any critical medical emergency that would require ringing for an ambulance on dry land, needs a helicopter attending at sea -if the ship is within the chopper’s flying range. Secondly, a group of people in close proximity to each other for a continued length of time are more likely to pass on any transferable illness doing the rounds. Outbreaks of novovirus or gastroenteritis on cruise ships do make the headlines periodically.

            Both these reasons mean that there is a potential, at any time, for a seriously ill obese passenger to need recovering from a cruise ship. Any Google search for using the terms ‘cruise ship’ and ‘medevac’ will bring a myriad of hits, particularly highlighting videos, of people being airlifted off cruise liners. And with the weather that this country has experienced lately, it is more than likely to be in poor conditions.

All the emergency services have my respect for doing an extraordinarily difficult job, many times in hazardous circumstances, and usually thankless one too. Search and Rescue teams around the United Kingdom who perform medevacs at sea, in stormy conditions, have my utter admiration.

Tags: emergency, Bariquins, bariatric, search, rescue, health service, ambulance, cruise, ship, liner, passenger, cruiser, medevac, evacuation, medical



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