06 Jun 17
Nick OwenNick OwenBritishCommunications OfficerItaly

Podcast: How we rescued 560 people on the mediterranean

"You’ve got to be in a really, really awful situation to think ‘yes, I’m going to put my nine-month-old child onto this rubber boat because that’s the best option to me at the moment’."

Last month, Nick Owen, the host of our Everyday Emergency podcast, spent time on Aquarius, a search and rescue ship MSF operates alongside SOS Méditerranée. 

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During his time on the ship as a communications officer, Nick captured the sounds of life on board - including the rescue of 560 people from four inflatable rubber boats. 

That rescue would also be the last of Dr Conor Kenny's three-month assignment on Aquarius. You might remember we interviewed Conor in the first series of Everyday Emergency, about his time in Idomeni refugee camp in Greece. 

"It can be a very difficult situation, and can turn very unstable very, very quickly," says Conor on rescuing people from the Mediterranean. 

"My job as a medic is to try and first of all summarise what I see to the medical team on the deck so we can prepare appropriately, but also try and identify those who are most unwell on the boat so we can prioritise them to come on our rescue boat, and bring them back to the Aquarius quickly.

"Time is not necessarily on your side, and in terms of prioritising cases, you really need to  just work with the information that you have."

Dr Conor Kenny

Nick boarded one of the RHIBs, or rigid-hulled inflatable boats, to see Conor in action as a rescue took place.

"At best, I can see maybe 70-80 percent of the people on the boat, and I know well that the most sick people are going to be lying on the ground, and they’re the people I cannot see," adds Conor.

"We try everything we can to make better decisions in terms of prioritisation, but it’s an extremely difficult environment.

"Time is not necessarily on your side, and in terms of prioritising cases, you really need to just work with the information that you have."

photo gallery

Take a look at these photos as you listen to the podcast to get a visual sense of life aboard Aquarius. Clicking the first image will launch a gallery.

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