Last week I gave my opinion about the deckhand on the fishing vessel Wizard. He fell ill during an episode of the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch. On tonight's episode, he was evacuated off the ship by helicopter.
To get the backstory read my original post, because for the rest of this one I'm going to assume you're up to date.
Here's my take in a nutshell: The kid is having a panic attack. Last week I was open to the idea that his rapid reaction to hyperventilation syndrome could have been exacerbated by dehydration. Tonight's episode crushed that theory when the deckhand had to pee.
I don't have any stats to back this up, but in my experience people who are fighting for their lives either don't have an urge to urinate or at least don't verbalize it. They either don't bring it up at all -- or they just let it flow. It was his urge to pee and the fact that he mentioned it that told me a couple of things:
- He wasn't dying.
- He wasn't dehydrated. (a reader pointed out that his urine was clear -- not a perfect indicator of adequate hydration but it certainly calls dehydration into question)
As my wife and I watched the rescue unfold, we couldn't help feeling a little frustrated that this man was responsible for putting several people at risk. His condition was not life-threatening but yet a helicopter was lowering a paramedic onto the deck of a fishing boat. That's one of the most dangerous activities a Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer does.
On the other hand, how would Chris know his condition was 90% anxiety? His symptoms are real. The pain and numbess are really pain and numbness. His carpal spasms were legitimate. The rest of the crew -- including Captain Keith -- don't know what's happening. I suspect the Rescue Swimmer didn't recognize it, either. I doubt that Alaska based Coast Guard aircrews see too many anxiety related conditions.
Those of us responding to run of the mill 911 calls see it every day. I think we pegged Chris's hyperventilation because we've seen it more times than we can count. My wife actually has a real knack for talking people like Chris down. As she watched last week's show she desperately wanted to see someone from the crew take over and tell the kid to relax.
In true Deadliest Catch style, this story is going to drag out over a few episodes. Rumor has it (or at least something I read on a website) that next week we'll find out what happened. Based on the editing -- every time the kid said he was terrified has been shown several times along with footage of him hyperventilating on deck -- I think the producers know that he was having a panic attack.
After Chris was airlifted to shore, Captain Keith and the rest of the crew started beating themselves up about causing this guy's condition. I'm not so sure about what happened on deck, but the kid came up to the wheelhouse to tell the captain he was too scared to continue. The captain told him to man up and get back to work.
Sorry to break it to you, Cap, but you contributed to your deckhand's condition. Should have gone with your gut: the kid wasn't ready for a crab boat.
I can't wait for next week.
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