Tomorrow will be an emotional day as I disembark my final passengers in my role as the doctor of the MV Aquarius, a rescue ship in the Mediterranean jointly operated by MSF and SOS Mediteranee. I have seen approximately 4,000 people off this ship over the past four months and I always feel uneasy for them as they face their new life but I’m also uneasy about my life after working on this boat – a task that has completely consumed me.
search and rescue
"I always cry after a rescue. Always."
Dear Family members and Friends of my colleagues on Aquarius,
I know that some of you don’t understand why your loved one has chosen to disappear from your lives for several months to volunteer on a boat. I know that you’re worried that they aren’t earning money, aren’t pursuing their career goals, and seem to have done the modern day equivalent of joining the circus, but I’d like to provide you with some reassurance.
Picture the effects of having a vegetable peeler applied to someone’s buttocks, plus or minus the backs of the legs, penis, testicles, and back. That’s what it looks like when some has fuel burns.
Fuel burns are actually a chemical burn rather than a thermal burn. Working as a doctor aboard the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue vessel run jointly by MSF and SOS Mediterranee, I’ve seen enough of these burns in the past 4 months to last a lifetime.
'I spoke to these guys last week, they were terrified. They saw a lot of people die along the way. It’s a deadly route.'
"The cold little bodies show burns everywhere, because the mixture of salt water and gasoline in the dinghy burns human flesh. They are inscribed with the horror they have been through."