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Old 01-04-2015, 13:04   #1
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First aid courses

We will be moving aboard our boat and cruising in a little over a year with our two children (ages 3 and 4) and Iím looking for some input on first aid courses.Iíve looked into Wilderness First Aid classes through the Redcross and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOL).Does anyone have experience with either of these courses?Are there other classes/courses out there geared more towards first aid for the cruiser?
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Old 01-04-2015, 13:14   #2
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Re: First aid courses

Having done a Red Cross "First Aid at Work" course over 4 days in the UK I can definitely vouch for the standard of their training. Also you have the backing of an internationally recognised organisation behind you. I think the RYA also do a First Aid course which is obviously going to be more orientated to the sailor but to be honest any first aid course is going to teach you what you need for an emergency situation and "to preserve life" until properly trained medical personnel can take over, which is the primary goal of first aid response.

Additionally thanks to the internationally recognised principle of the "Good Samaritan" a qualified or formally trained First Aider can not be held liable for damages

Red Cross, St John's/St Andrew's Ambulance, Royal Yacht Association or their equivalents would be excellent choices.

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Old 01-04-2015, 13:17   #3
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Re: First aid courses

No personal experience with either but there was a discussion on wilderness first aid on this forum a couple of years ago and I recall a specific course was highly recommended.

In general the wilderness focused classes were considered the most appropriate since they focus on first aid in situations where quick access to an ER or other advanced care might not be an option.

A search through old threads might turn up the discussion I'm thinking about.
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Old 01-04-2015, 13:21   #4
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Re: First aid courses

I am CPR certified, and have taken a 2 day Wilderness class, (not NOL). My partner has been a certified EMT 2 in the past, but he let his cert lapse. No problem, since the knowledge still exists. His skills are great if something happens to me, but I didn't feel like I had enough knowledge if something happened to him. Last Jan, I took the EMT 1 class through my local university. It was very challenging, I had to give up every Mon/Wed/Fri evening 5:00p-10:00p for about 4 months. I now feel ready for medical issues, and we have an Adventure Medical Kit 3000 onboard, the only thing we lack is an AED. I also have quite a bit of spare meds, it turns out when my doctor found out we were going cruising, she prescribed a "travel pack", and we have stocked up on things we wouldn't have otherwise had access to.

If we get a chance, we still want to do the Wilderness First Responder, we just haven't been able to connect with a location yet. It looks like it would cover emergencies when you don't have a lot of supplies available.

Good luck with your planning.
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Old 01-04-2015, 13:24   #5
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Re: First aid courses

Red Cross has some great classes. If you don't have a lot of experience with children, I would look into something directed toward treating and preventing accidents, illness and injury to them.
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Old 01-04-2015, 13:32   #6
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Re: First aid courses

Quote:
Originally Posted by awaywego View Post
We will be moving aboard our boat and cruising in a little over a year with our two children (ages 3 and 4) and Iím looking for some input on first aid courses.Iíve looked into Wilderness First Aid classes through the Redcross and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOL).Does anyone have experience with either of these courses?Are there other classes/courses out there geared more towards first aid for the cruiser?
I did the Red Cross "Marine Advanced First Aid" this winter, very similar in content to the wilderness first aid course. I recommend it.

I have also done St John Ambulance "Marine Advanced First Aid" nearly identical too Red Cross, I also would recommend it.

If you have some $ and time, either organisations "First Responder" or "Emergency Medical Responder" courses are fantastic. About two weeks each, I've done both at some point, well worth the money.

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Old 01-04-2015, 13:48   #7
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Re: First aid courses

I've had industrial FA many times and FA for commercial fishermen etc. If you can find the latter offered (commercial fishing convention etc) it's definitely better. We even learned how to stitch cuts, use lidocaine etc. .. and we got to practice out technique on hogs legs. I'm thinking maybe the wilderness course may offer that also?
It seems most industrial type first aid focuses on what to do until the aid car arrives..... not that helpful 500 miles offshore....
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Old 01-04-2015, 14:39   #8
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Re: First aid courses

I'm lucky. My wife is an ICU RN who has also run rural clinics. She handles our medical supplies and decides what's practical and what's not.

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Old 01-04-2015, 14:49   #9
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Re: First aid courses

Quote:
Originally Posted by awaywego View Post
We will be moving aboard our boat and cruising in a little over a year with our two children (ages 3 and 4) and Iím looking for some input on first aid courses.Iíve looked into Wilderness First Aid classes through the Redcross and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOL).Does anyone have experience with either of these courses?Are there other classes/courses out there geared more towards first aid for the cruiser?
Ok, here's my background and a couple of thoughts for you. I'm an ex-rural/wilderness EMT and ER tech, and moving towards longterm liveaboard cruising myself. As for just basic Red Cross first aid/CPR courses, they're something you should have (especially with kids) but they're geared towards stabilizing someone for a few minutes until an ambulance gets there. Wildnerness specific courses are a big step up from that, as they at least recognize that immediate rescue isn't always in the cards, but there's still usually a level of focus on stabilizing and awaiting rescue and definitive care. Obviously if you're cruising offshore that changes the dynamics dramatically. Once you get offshore and into more remote cruising grounds you need to be more in the mindspace of 'I need to be able to provide definitive care - or at least find out how to provide definitive care.'

There are a couple of groups/organizations who specialize in running programs for cruisers and soon-to-be cruisers. In general they aren't cheap, but they're incredibly well tailored for folks who are going to be sailing away from rescue services and will need to be self-sufficient and able to handle things on their own for a more prolonged period of time. One of the things these more cruiser-oriented courses teach, beyond just the physical skills (how to splint, how to suture, etc) is how to think and work through the diagnostic process as a healthcare provider for your crew. That is, they teach not just how to do <x>, but when and why you would do <x>, why you wouldn't do <x>, and what problems doing <x> could cause you down the road.

Wilderness Medical Associates International is one of the better known companies doing it, and their Offshore Emergency Medicine course (they offer it through the SSCA a couple times a year) is a gold-standard from everyone I've talked to. From when I looked at it last year I think the OEM course was around 3 days and $750. There's at least two other companies I know of who offer similar courses that I've also heard good things about, but I'm blanking on their names at the moment - I'll see if I can find their names and post them here for you when I do.

Obviously, beyond taking whatever courses it is that you decide to, you'll need to put together a solid medical kit -- which is one of the things the cruiser-specific courses discuss at reasonable length, including some suggested medications for you to discuss with your doctor. If you've got it in your medical kit, make sure you know how to use it and are prepared to use it (or have it used on you). As an example, if you have IV fluids in your kit, but nobody knows how to start an IV on a rolling boat, how much good does that fluid do you?

Ok, there's my $0.02. If you've got any questions feel free to reply or message me, I'll be happy to answer if I can.

Darren
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Old 01-04-2015, 19:33   #10
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Re: First aid courses

Do you guys have any experience with the MCA Medical First Aid Provider and Medical Care at Sea/Person In Charge classes?

We've been talking to the folks at Medical Support Offshore about making a custom medical kit for us and subscribing to their on call doctor support service when we leave the Caribbean and go more rural. They want us to attend at least the first class, and preferably both.

I wouldn't normally go to this great length, but one of my kids is a bit complicated.
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Old 01-04-2015, 19:45   #11
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Re: First aid courses

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Originally Posted by msponer View Post
Do you guys have any experience with the MCA Medical First Aid Provider and Medical Care at Sea/Person In Charge classes?

We've been talking to the folks at Medical Support Offshore about making a custom medical kit for us and subscribing to their on call doctor support service when we leave the Caribbean and go more rural. They want us to attend at least the first class, and preferably both.

I wouldn't normally go to this great length, but one of my kids is a bit complicated.
Having had a quick look at the links my personal thoughts are either would be excellent for sailing First Aid. The "person in charge" course is a very detailed one specifically designed for ship's medics so it is very comprehensive. If you are going to be away for a prolonged period and as you have a complex medical situation my gut instinct would be this course would be the better option as you will be much better prepared to deal with almost any emergency.

That would be my vote if I were in your shoes

Keiron
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Old 01-04-2015, 20:08   #12
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Re: First aid courses

" thanks to the internationally recognised principle of the "Good Samaritan" a qualified or formally trained First Aider can not be held liable for damages"
Not so simple in America, and I would suspect most of the world. The Good Samaritan laws here are specific to each state, but as far as I know, they all state that your actions MUST comply with your training. Must NOT EXCEED the scope of your training. and for things like CPR, you must be within the certification period, i.e. two years.


Some standards (like CPR with or without breathing assistance) also differ based on when and to what level you were trained, while current "best practice" may conflict with training. Under the Good Sam laws, you'd have to follow your training--even when it was no longer considered proper.


Of course if you are a parent caring for your child, liability issues are likely to be much less of your concern.


I understand there are some US Army publications ($75 softcover books) under various "...Combat Medic..." titles that also deal with major trauma, presenting information that is simply not taught in conventional first aid classes. One of the things the Army has learned is that tourniquets can easily cause amputation--but they prevent a victim from bleeding out. Tourniquets have been completely out of favor in civilian first aid for decades, but they are now being taught again, with some basic rules, as "better than letting the victim die of blood loss, like the Army says."
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Old 01-04-2015, 22:49   #13
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Re: First aid courses

You might find this free book on offshore medicine helpful or funny. It is free and mentions something about the courses.

http://www.theseaissalt.com/wp-conte...e-Medicine.pdf

It is not the only resource, but freely available.
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Old 02-04-2015, 00:33   #14
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Re: First aid courses

Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
Do you guys have any experience with the MCA Medical First Aid Provider and Medical Care at Sea/Person In Charge classes?

We've been talking to the folks at Medical Support Offshore about making a custom medical kit for us and subscribing to their on call doctor support service when we leave the Caribbean and go more rural. They want us to attend at least the first class, and preferably both.

I wouldn't normally go to this great length, but one of my kids is a bit complicated.
With the caveat that I'm not nearly as well-versed on things on your side of the pond msponer, certainly the second Medical Care at Sea/PiC course is the equal of just about anything I've seen here in the US. It's clearly geared towards a more maritime/shipping population than some of the more cruiser-oriented courses out there, but I'm sure that's as much because that's where the money is as anything. We're a rather small niche market in reality. What that will mean for you is that some of the things that course will teach you might not directly translate to your boat: for example, shipboard falls are a much bigger issue on a container ship than they will be on a 45' sailing vessel -- however the way you'll learn to think and actin the class will translate, and that will likely be at least as valuable as any of the individual skills that you may learn in the course. I know MPT has a very good reputation for the quality of their training. They're based in Ft Lauderdale, and from what I recall do a booming business there.

One thing that I might make a point of asking during your discussions with the company before you enroll in the courses however is if there are any areas where the course material should be altered or supplemented for you based on your vessel and cruising plans, especially if as it seems they normally teach mostly merchant seaman. For example, learning how to assemble and use rigid spinal boards and stair chairs and all other manner of devices found in a well-equipped sick berth are great, but none are likely to be found aboard your yacht -- will their courses teach you how to accomplish the same goals using what you have at hand? This is the value I see in some of the Wilderness/Offshore medicine courses that are offered for cruisers, is they tend to provide both the medical knowledge as well as the "Here's how it's done in a perfect environment in a hospital A&E ward. Now, here's some way to get it done on a boat with what you've got at hand, when you don't have $5k worth of supplies that you'll probably never need."

There are a number of doctor-on-call and custom medical kit/support services available out there, both UK and US based, and if you've got one that you're developing a good relationship with then that's worth a LOT when the excrement hits the portable cooling device once you're away from easy access to advanced care.

As for Medical Support Offshore, I'm not familiar with them myself but am asking some UK-based friends about them and will get back to you if I hear anything useful.
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