search and rescue

End of Assignment

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.


Again, and again, and again. My WhatsApp feed fills with the latest news from the Central Mediterranean. Our Project Coordinator, Ferry, has announced, yet again, that another group of people has drowned miles away from us and only a few survivors have been found by another boat I think that it’s the third announcement of its kind this week, but I’m losing track.

Dear Family members and Friends of my colleagues on Aquarius,

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.

Fuel Burns

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.