New York residents who take cruise vacations often purchase travel health insurance, but this coverage does them little good if there are no doctors available to deal with medical emergencies. This is what appears to have happened when a cruise ship visited the Honduran island of Roatan on March 15. A male passenger was killed when a ship on a week-long cruise stopped at the tiny island, and his family says that doctors did not arrive at the scene for almost an hour.
Disused zipline platform
According to media reports, the man was hurt when he and several other passengers were jumping off a structure that was once used as a zipline platform. Passengers became worried when the man jumped into the ocean but did not surface. The man was pulled from the water, and a woman who told onlookers that she was a nurse performed CPR for approximately 45 minutes. Reports indicate that the man struck his head on a rock and lost consciousness. The woman who performed CPR said that paramedics arrived about an hour later.
Roatan is a small island with thousands of inhabitants, so an ambulance could have been sent to help the man. The man’s body was left on the beach for about four hours because local prosecutors had called a strike, which stretched resources on the island. The man’s family used umbrellas and towels to cover the body while they waited for help to arrive. When passengers die in cruise ship accidents and foul play is not suspected, their bodies are returned to the United States.
Cruise ships are required to have medical personnel on duty, but these doctors and nurses may not be able to provide emergency treatment to passengers who suffer accident injuries while ashore. Cruise ship passengers should be notified about local problems or situations that could lengthen response times before they disembark, and the ship’s medical personnel should be placed on alert when local paramedics cannot be relied upon. These precautions could prevent accidents, save lives and protect cruise operators from lawsuits.