Boating With Brenda–Would you know what to do?

vhf-16An early departure from the Melbourne Marina in Florida-while we enjoyed breakfast on the bridge would allow us a full day on the water heading north on the Intra Coastal Waterway. We had enjoyed the last two months cruising the Sea of Abaco in the Bahamas with our friends. The morning sunshine lit up the multi-million dollar homes along the shoreline, while dolphins challenged our digital cameras. Cruising life doesn’t get much better than this! But,

Suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, I felt faint, then hot, then I felt a tightness in my chest. I wasn’t in pain and thought it would pass. After a few minutes, I knew this was serious and I needed help.

A quick call to US Coast Guard and a series of events happened like clockwork. They co-ordinated all the water and lend emergency services. The paramedics climbed aboard and confirmed that I was having a heart attack-100% blockage. They rushed me into surgery at a nearby Cardiac Hospital Thanks to everyone involved, there was only about an hour from the call to the operating table and their fast actions clearly saved my life. Without a doubt, this was a frightening experience for us, but when I talked to many boating friends, they said they didn’t know what they would have done in similar circumstances.

I’d like to reassure other boating women that they needn’t worry or be fearful when on the water. In an emergency, just pick up the VHF and call the Coast Guard. Tell them you have a medical emergency. That is all you have to do. Then, answer their questions and follow their instructions. It is that easy! Don’t worry about protocols, just do it.

Your VHF is your lifeline so be sure you know how to turn on the VHF, tune to Channel 16, push to talk and release to listen. Better yet, have our whole family take a VHF radio course. Anywhere on the water, call Coast Guard on 16 when you have an emergency. They will know what to do and they will help you.

My hope is that by sharing some of my stories in future columns that I can help other boating women feel more confident and comfortable on the water.

Brenda Dawson

Published in Power Boating Canada Magazine Spring 2009 Issue 24-2

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