James Lybrand - Medical evacuations

Running time
1 min 46 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Not to be glib about it, but twisted testicles are actually quite a serious medical emergency that happen with young men. There is a problem with people with, effectively, an impacted hair at the base of their spine is a big one, or indeed, just an infection on your skin, so if someone pops a pimple and they've not cleaned it, you can actually get a very significant infection start very quickly.

And we've had some more major injuries and you do have to make a decision on how you're getting that person off at the time and what your operational circumstances are, one, if it's an exercise it's no problem, you surface and go back to port and you get them off. If you are departing, let's say from Australia to Hawaii, It's a 21-day transit from Sydney to Hawaii and if you're halfway then you've got to call, as the CO, got a call back to submarine operations here and try and organize people to get off. Interesting point because that's been done before.

I myself amputated the end of my finger on the submarine in a door hatch. A door, shut on it and crushed the end of my finger off. As the captain, we've just left Australia, so we actually had to get me back under heavy sedation and morphine to a port which we had left about a day before and then get the CO off.

So then what happens? You know, you've got to get a new captain because unlike a surface ship, you can't actually sail without the command qualified captain, surface ship can sail with an ex-o submarine can't. So then we had to fly a new guy up and, you know, he had to take the submarine away.

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