01 February 2017
We asked John Adamson, our Training Manager at DDRC Professional Services, to share his over 30 years of experience working at sea as a Royal Navy medic, a nurse, an Offshore Medic and then as a Medical Educator, to help weekend sailors and day trippers to improve their sea safety.
John’s response was that whether you are going to sea for a few hours or a few days, on your own, with family or friends, it pays to be prepared for any medical emergency or first aid eventuality.
John says sailors should think ‘SIMPLE’ to ensure their safety at sea:
S – Safety of crew and passengers. Make sure you all have the correct clothing and some spare warm clothes. Wear sturdy, waterproof footwear and check for hazards, to avoid slips, trips and falls.
I – Inform the coastguard, friends or relatives where you are going, how long for and an estimated time of arrival (ETA) back at the port. Check your communications systems and ensure you have mobile phones and other means of calling for help such as VHF radio.
M – Medication. Remember to take any necessary medication. Pack a First Aid kit and generic healthcare medications such as paracetamol, anti-motion sickness medication, Imodium for stomach upsets, burns cream and don’t forget sun screen. Always have a good supply of fresh drinking water.
P – Plan. Always have an emergency plan. Where could you go in case of bad weather? What alternative safe ports are there along your route? Have emergency contact numbers and so on.
L – Life Vest or May West. Please make sure everyone aboard keeps them on at all times. They may not be pretty, but they are pretty effective in the water. The water temperatures in the UK never move far from 15 degrees so be aware of cold water shock (see the RNLI campaign with some great advice on this). If you fall in, the body will commence severe shivering and muscles will cramp up. If you’re not wearing a life jacket you will probably end up going under the surface gasping for air. Even if you or one of your crew survive this ordeal, you will then have to deal with hypothermia and secondary drowning which can occur 12-72 hours after the event and is life threatening.
E – Enjoy your time at sea, safe in the knowledge that you have taken these SIMPLE sea safety steps.
To be even better prepared for dealing with a medical or first aid emergency on board, you could sign up for one of our MCA STCW approved training courses, which run from a one-day to a five-day option depending on the degree of training that you require. The courses are ideal for anyone going to sea, whether recreationally for a few hours at a time, to transatlantic adventurers or those working at sea professionally. Sea safety and first aid at sea could be needed by anyone out on the water.
Take a look on our website for more details of the medical and first aid training courses that we run for people going to sea.