In the right place at the right time.
‘Relax, asses, react,’ is the motto for surfingdoctors.com founder Dr Philip Chapman from South Africa. Currently residing in Australia, Dr Chapman formed the organization 11 years ago to help out with medical services and advice at places like G-Land in Java, and it has grown since then. These days the best surf camps in the world all have doctors on duty, with rosters going throughout the season. The surfing doctor are active at G-Land, Macaronis Resort, and do work at Kandui Resort, a well as periods Nomotu in Fiji.
The doctors have faced some gnarly stuff over the years, including a death at G-Land as well as a horrific pelvic break. Faced with an 8 to 10-foot double-up wave from hell, an inexperienced surfer panicked, turned and faced the beach at G-Land, and the wave broke on him, causing him to do the splits, breaking his pelvic bone. Dr Chapman was on duty that day when they found the guy on the reef at G-land.
“He had done the splits and was in big trouble. There was a lot going on, but he was in shock and he urgently needed Intensive Care,” recalls Dr Chapman. ”We couldn’t get a helicopter, they were too busy flying tourists over Bali, so we had to do an immediate assessment, get him onto a truck, fill him up with painkiller and roll him out. It was touch and go. We never knew if he was going to make it to the hospital in Banyawangi.”
These days the Surfing Doctors have their conference every year at G-Land where they discuss topics like common surfing musculoskeletal injuries, dealing with various toxidromes in the tropics, infectious diseases of the tropics and malaria, drowning reviews, cases and perspective, Marine envenomations and eye trauma in remote surfing zones to name a few.
Photo by Teddy Kelley