4,500 miles across the Atlantic and home again. The Vanguard unit that has been supporting the island of Bonaire as its sole operating theatre arrives back in Britain. This follows an 18-day passage on board a freighter ship. The mobile theatre is returning from a two year deployment on Bonaire, a Dutch territory off the coast of Venezuela.

A mobile operating theatre travelling by road in the Caribbean

Its mission was to provide capacity for continued acute care while the island’s only operating theatre underwent significant refurbishments. Bonaire is home to approximately 19,000 permanent residents and experiences an influx of tourists during the warmer months. These are mostly divers, snorkelling enthusiasts and cruise ship passengers. Wind-surfers and kayaking fans are also frequent visitors, drawn by the strong trade winds and one of the best-preserved mangrove forests in the Caribbean. The Vanguard facility needed to deal with a huge variety of cases. Whatever came in through the doors that required surgical intervention passed through the mobile theatre – including an unexpected delivery in the early hours of the morning!

Following a successful deployment, the facility is now returning to the UK. It will be audited, given some TLC and made ready for its next assignment. Find out more about the challenges the facility faced in the tropical environment and the innovative answers that the Vanguard team provided by reading our Bonaire case study.