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Day 23: Underway, Making Way

I think I instantly missed my home in Maine when I stepped out onto deck for the first time yesterday. New York was disgustingly humid and hot compared to the Penobscot, but this feeling melted (mostly) away as I saw the Tug Stephen Dann push the bunker barge onto the hip of the State of Maine. New York was absolutely bustling with life. Coast Guard cutters decorated in flags, MSC ships sailing in with cargo, police boats on patrol, and the Staten Island ferries pulling in and out of Stapleton. We were finally beginning our journey.

It was around 2000 when I was able to go out on deck on my time again. What sight it was! The world was painted over in golds and yellows, purples pinks, and all was covered in the soft haze of one storm gone by and the next on the horizon. The last time I was on this path, I was sailing for Texas. I was reminded then of the same feeling I had then; the first uphill of a rollercoaster. Except this time, it felt steeper, more intense. It was the start of first ever trans-Atlantic. We are at the point of the ride where there is no going back. We are set, we are underway, and we are following the currents laid down for Europe.

Although right now it feels like this journey is sudden, one of those big events in your life you know is coming, but it doesn’t really feel real until it’s happening, I can’t deny the amount of preparation we took to get here. The State of Maine had been carefully taken care of, repaired, and renovated by students, crew, and contractors since she had returned to Castine from her last trip almost a year ago. The ship officers prepared navigation, bunkering logistics, and so much more I cannot fathom how many months of hours they put into getting the ship ready for this. The instructors onboard prepared 14 days of training for each company’s 2/C and 4/C, and the Galley staff work tirelessly to feed a crew of 247 three meals every day. One activity we all do prepare for and stay ready for anything are our emergency drills!

Each time we have a fire drill, E-Squad dispatches to their assigned locations. As part of Med-Squad, I muster at Med-Bay and I standby for any report of an injured person to help rescue. As we wait for this report, we take the time to train with our rescue equipment. This time, we decided to train with the stair chair, and of course, I was chosen to be the victim. The stair chair aboard the ship is the oldest I have ever seen. Instead of having brackets that can be used to slide the chair up and down the stairs, a footrest, and padded handles: the thing was just a normal old chair with straps and metal hand bars. Even though the training was short, I learned a lot! It’s normal for a patient in the stair chair to want to grab whatever is around them- no matter what you do they’re going to feel like they might fall, it’s part of the experience. In the past, I learned to prevent this by giving the patient something to hold so that they’re too busy to grab anything else, but the new doctor onboard taught us that you can wrap them in a sheet so that their hands are not able to move. So, that was exactly what my shipmates did to me. We then practiced what to do if you feel unbalanced while lifting the chair; if you are going up the stairs backwards, just sit down. If you are going up the stairs forward, lean forward into the chair. Even though the stair chair is a commonly used tool most of us on Med-Squad has used before; it was wonderful to learn how to use the older model we have onboard and we were able to train our shipmates who have had never seen one before.

Post by: 4/C Brooke Foran, MTO, Charlie Company