Superyacht medical training: What qualifications you need on board
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 30/11/2017
There are qualifications required for yacht crew if they want to, or are asked to, take charge of first aid or medical care on board their vessel.
As well as the STCW Basic Safety training course, which is required by all seafarers as standard, there are two other courses that legally enable crew to offer more medical services to the persons on board their vessel. Both courses are approved by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), and can help crew to get ahead in their yachting career.
1. MCA STCW Proficiency in Medical First Aid On Board Ship
This entry-level course is for crew who are designated to provide first aid on a yacht or boat. The Proficiency in Medical First Aid will allow seafarers to gain a level of knowledge to be sufficient in providing medical first aid while on board, allowing them to be able to take immediate action in the case of injury or illness; candidates will learn how to understand the medical equipment and user references found on board, such as the yacht’s medical guide.
The qualification is aimed at those responsible for providing first aid on vessels venturing up to 150 miles from a “safe haven”.
All Proficiency in Medical First Aid courses last four days. Training hours are usually 9:00am to 5:00pm, or similar.
Prices for the course can vary by the selected crew training school or provider, however courses tend to range from €425 (around $500) to €710 ($840). A reasonable price to pay is around €500 or $590.
The validity of the Proficiency in Medical First Aid certificate is five years. Qualifications will therefore need to be renewed every five years if required, by attending a new course.
Students wishing to obtain the Proficiency in Medical First Aid qualification must be at least 16 years of age. Each training school will typically have different prerequisites; some have no required qualification while some may ask for basic first aid knowledge, or for students to have spent a certain amount of time at sea.
How is the First Aid course taught and what does it cover?
The course is usually taught through a mixture of theory and practical sessions and students are sometimes required to carry out some study outside of classroom hours. Course material covers:
- Scene management
- An unconscious casualty
- Wounds and injuries
- Head injuries
- Fractures and dislocations
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Temperature extremes
- Care of the rescued casualty
- Medical emergencies
- Casualty handling
- Equipment and information
- Health and hygiene
- AED training now also included
How do you gain the qualification?
The Proficiency in Medical First Aid is usually assessed with a combination of oral questioning, written tests and/or practical assessments.
The next level to this is the below Proficiency in Medical Care course.
2. MCA STCW Proficiency in Medical Care On Board Ship
A seemingly similar name often causes courses to be confused, but the Proficiency in Medical Care On Board Ship is the next step to the Proficiency in First Aid course above. As such, it concentrates on teaching medical diagnosis using a combination of symptom observation and the captain’s medical guide, enabling the crewmember to be the eyes and ears of the doctor at the end of the radio.
Aimed at crew who are not only in charge of first aid, but also designated to take charge of all medical care on board, it will allow them to diagnose medical problems and provide medical care to the sick and injured while they remain on board until the yacht is in range of outside assistance. The course will also enable the candidate to participate in coordinated schemes to provide medical assistance to ships.
All Medical Care courses last five days. Training hours are usually 9:00am to 5:00pm, or similar.
Prices for this advanced course are higher than the Proficiency in First Aid course, and can again vary depending on the training school; however they tend to range from €540 (around $640) to €855 ($1,010).
The validity of the Proficiency in Medical Care certificate is also five years. Qualifications will therefore need to be renewed every five years if required, by attending a new course.
Students of the Medical Care course must be at least 16 years of age and have a Proficiency in Medical First Aid certificate, which should be brought to the course.
How is the Medical Care course taught and what does it cover?
The course is usually taught through a mixture of theory and practical sessions, and students are usually required to carry out some study outside of classroom hours. Course material covers:
- Communication with outside authorities
- Knowledge of medical terminology
- Making a diagnosis
- The cardiovascular and respiratory systems
- The abdominal system
- ENT, dental and opthalmology
- Communicable diseases
- Wounds and injuries
- Equipment and information
- Patient management (general)
- Patient management (specific)
- Medical care of children
How is it assessed?
This course is again typically assessed using a combination of oral questioning, written test and/or practical assessments.