How to put a medical kit together
Last updated: 21/10/2016
As owners become more adventurous, a serious on board medical emergency is inevitable. To meet these demands, a growing number of companies are offering a variety of services and products.
Essential first aid supplies
Dr Spike Briggs, from Medical Support Offshore Ltd spoke to Yachting Pages and explained how to put together a medical kit for any occasion whether you’re planning a short excursion or a long charter.
A medical kit for marine use could well contain several hundred items, and finding the right piece of equipment shouldn’t become like the proverbial pin and haystack. Organisation of the kit into sections is the key. How the kit is planned is really up to the captain; however there are some tried and tested ways of going about this.
A good systematic way of designing a comprehensive kit is to go though each body system (e.g. head, heart, stomach, skin), thinking about the common problems that occur on board, making sure that the appropriate drugs, dressings and hardware are included in the kit. All the medicines, hardware, needles etc. for each body system should then be arranged into transparent sealable bags or boxes, each with a laminated contents list.
In addition, there should be separate bags, which don’t fit into the ‘body system’ scheme, containing:
- Emergency/resuscitation drugs
- Hardware(e.g. defibrillator)
- Intravenous/intramuscular drugs, needles and syringes
- Intravenous fluid (if carried)
All this equipment generally can’t fit in to one bag or box, especially for the ‘offshore’ and ‘ocean’ kits. A convenient way to arrange the overall kit is to use the following arrangement, loosely based on how often the bits of kit may be required:
First aid kit (to be kept in the saloon, and to be used by any of the crew
- Simple painkillers (e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen)
- Sore throat lozenges
- Sun cream
- Seasickness medications
Grab bag (to be taken when leaving yacht; may also double as emergency treatment bag):
- Emergency analgesics (oral and intramuscular)
- Sea-sickness medications (a large stock)
- Re-hydration salts
- Suturing kit
- SAM splints, strapping and bandages
Medium sized bag (Frequently used items)
- Body system bags or boxes
- Emergency boxes
- First aid books, medical reference manuals
Large store bag (containing large, heavy equipment, not used as often)
- Large splints
- Intravenous fluid
- Stiff neck collars
- Stores of medicines for replenishment
Responsibilities of crew
The sudden onset of a marine emergency can be a mind-numbing experience; but dealing with the emergency should be a well-rehearsed methodical process.
All crew members will have some basic knowledge of how to properly handle a medical situation from their STCW95 training. However crew still have responsibilities after their initial safety training:
- Each superyacht should have a safety training manual for every worker on board, and it is the responsibility of crew to thoroughly read the manual and know the yacht’s individual emergency processes.
- Crew should know where all emergency equipment and exits are located and be well drilled in using emergency equipment/exits. Crew should be instructed on various signals, alarms and whistles, which will differentiate between the emergency that is present. There are different emergency signals for all types of accidents and incidents, including signals and alarms for security emergencies, man overboard signals, abandon ship signals, and several others. These are to be taken very seriously because failure to recognise a signal can cause serious implications to the safety of those on board