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Old 01-04-2016, 10:42   #1
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Recommended First Aid Kits

Does anyone have recommendations for types or brand names of first aid kits to have on board? Searching this forum did not bring up any specific recommendations. Have you had good luck with the brand of kit that you have? Do you have any opinions about how much money one should devote to a first aid kit?

My wife and I are planning for extended cruising on a custom 35' sailboat.

Eric
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Old 01-04-2016, 11:06   #2
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

As a doctor who has cruised extensively...We keep a simple first aid kit we bought at West Marine which we have never used.

More important are some basic broad spectrum antibiotics that get used frequently for infected cuts and abrasions and female urinary tract infections. We also carry medication for female yeast infections.

I have allergies and often react to jellyfish stings so we also carry Benedryl and oral steroids.
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Old 02-04-2016, 05:42   #3
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

Thanks, Phil, that's something easily done. We'll also talk to our doctor for recommendations of other suitable supplies.

Eric
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Old 02-04-2016, 05:46   #4
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pirate Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

Make up your own.. most kits have contents you can buy for a 1/3rd of the price individually.
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Old 02-04-2016, 05:54   #5
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

We talked to our doctor. David has a tendency to get bronchitis and I get sinus infections - so we carry broad spectrum antibiotics to cover both. Another broad spectrum antibiotic for skin infections. We also carry Epi-Pens (no, neither of us are allergic to anything specific, but the logic was that if we need an Epi-Pen somewhere remote, it will be too late), some steroid cream for pico pico (sea lice) and such, ear & eye infection antibiotic drops, yeast infection meds and standard first aid - neosporin, bandaids, butterflys etc. A doctor in Cuba told us we should carry a staplegun for closing incisions, but neither of us know how to use it and we opted for just butterflies (our doctor originally recommended a suture kit, but same logic applied). It wasn't cheap, but we've used it frequently over the past 15 years and keep restocking as necessary.
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Old 02-04-2016, 08:04   #6
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Make up your own.. most kits have contents you can buy for a 1/3rd of the price individually.
Totally agree. The expensive kits mostly contain band aids and misc. stuff that in total could be bought for 1/10th the price at Costco. There are published lists from cruisers - many pages long - that list many more items that can be acquired without prescription. I would suggest that lidocaine & sutures be in the kit.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:06   #7
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

Consider a diagnostic program on a disc. Type in the symptoms; it tells you what the likely choices are. And then shows the recommended treatment. EVERY ER physician and probably most GP's use them. Wether they admit it or not.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:11   #8
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

Quote:
Originally Posted by ewsponberg View Post
Does anyone have recommendations for types or brand names of first aid kits to have on board? Searching this forum did not bring up any specific recommendations. Have you had good luck with the brand of kit that you have? Do you have any opinions about how much money one should devote to a first aid kit?

My wife and I are planning for extended cruising on a custom 35' sailboat.

Eric
Hi Eric,

From my experience, the answers to your questions depends upon where and how you will be cruising, and how remote you will be. [i.e., How self-sufficient do you need to be?] We have different levels of kit and carry accordingly.

We have found that training is perhaps more important than the first aid supplies onboard for ocean crossing and remote area coastal cruising. Proper training will help you deal well with emergencies, and give you the knowledge to evaluate and formulate your own answers to your questions about kit- with a balance for your risk tolerance vs. the risks associated with your planned adventures.

If you plan to frequent waters with lots of other boaters [where some may have medical training...] and be reasonably near cities with medical facilities, you can scale down what I describe, below.

We are used to boating and land travel in fairly remote areas where it is often unusual to even see another person or vessel on a daily, sometimes weekly basis. Therefore our feedback is given on this premise.

We plan around assistance always being a minimum of 1-4 days out [even if we activate a rescue alert; e.g., EPIRB, PLB, Sat phone call, etc.] so we try to be prepared to cope and manage for 4 days as our designated worse case scenario.

Therefore we both have Emergency Medical Technician training EMT training. [Pursue the level to suit your needs; EMT 1 & 2 are adequate for us.] Then [or at least if traveling remotely...] attend a NOLS Wilderness First Responder course [9 full days in a row- mostly outdoors...]

If you are always close to first world societies and reliable means of emergency transport [We enrolled in DAN Boater for emergency transport needs] then you may be able to justify less training. It is dependent upon your personal risk tolerance, desired level of self-sufficiency, and the situations you may encounter.

Now to provide feedback to your question about 1st aid kits:

A good reference [for boaters] is Practical Sailor's series of articles on this topic which includes evaluations of commercial offerings for various levels of need.

Independently we decided upon the Adventure Medical Kits line of offerings for our major kit. [We have 4 levels of kits: the first 3 being the usual stuff you see listed for minor, day-to-day issues, including antibiotics, etc.]

For our ditch bag kit [and for grab and run and/or more extreme emergencies onboard] we ended up with a Marine 3000 kit and supplemented it with additional items we felt were worthwhile for our risk factors including a traction splint, additional IV solutions, and other specialty items.]

Real world scenario: So far our worse case has been a fractured wrist [Colles fracture; very painful, but not life threatening...] in inclement conditions at night. Transport to shore [before we had subscribed to DANBoater, referenced above] could not be provided until the next day [~16 hours- and one overnight- later] due to timing and inclement conditions. Subsequent ground transport and arrival at a medical facility occurred late on day 2. [~21 hours after the incident...] All-in-all not bad- unless you were the victim...

Lessons learned from this incident:
  • More powerful pain relief meds were needed [Now in inventory]
    Otherwise the kit was more than adequate
  • Voice communication with rescue and transport resources [via sat phone in this case] is invaluable in an emergency requiring assistance.

In hopes some of this may be worthwhile for you, and may none of us ever never need our kits!

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 02-04-2016, 14:50   #9
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrwakefield View Post
Hi Eric,

From my experience, the answers to your questions depends upon where and how you will be cruising, and how remote you will be. [i.e., How self-sufficient do you need to be?] We have different levels of kit and carry accordingly.

We have found that training is perhaps more important than the first aid supplies onboard for ocean crossing and remote area coastal cruising. Proper training will help you deal well with emergencies, and give you the knowledge to evaluate and formulate your own answers to your questions about kit- with a balance for your risk tolerance vs. the risks associated with your planned adventures.

If you plan to frequent waters with lots of other boaters [where some may have medical training...] and be reasonably near cities with medical facilities, you can scale down what I describe, below.

We are used to boating and land travel in fairly remote areas where it is often unusual to even see another person or vessel on a daily, sometimes weekly basis. Therefore our feedback is given on this premise.

We plan around assistance always being a minimum of 1-4 days out [even if we activate a rescue alert; e.g., EPIRB, PLB, Sat phone call, etc.] so we try to be prepared to cope and manage for 4 days as our designated worse case scenario.

Therefore we both have Emergency Medical Technician training EMT training. [Pursue the level to suit your needs; EMT 1 & 2 are adequate for us.] Then [or at least if traveling remotely...] attend a NOLS Wilderness First Responder course [9 full days in a row- mostly outdoors...]

If you are always close to first world societies and reliable means of emergency transport [We enrolled in DAN Boater for emergency transport needs] then you may be able to justify less training. It is dependent upon your personal risk tolerance, desired level of self-sufficiency, and the situations you may encounter.

Now to provide feedback to your question about 1st aid kits:

A good reference [for boaters] is Practical Sailor's series of articles on this topic which includes evaluations of commercial offerings for various levels of need.

Independently we decided upon the Adventure Medical Kits line of offerings for our major kit. [We have 4 levels of kits: the first 3 being the usual stuff you see listed for minor, day-to-day issues, including antibiotics, etc.]

For our ditch bag kit [and for grab and run and/or more extreme emergencies onboard] we ended up with a Marine 3000 kit and supplemented it with additional items we felt were worthwhile for our risk factors including a traction splint, additional IV solutions, and other specialty items.]

Real world scenario: So far our worse case has been a fractured wrist [Colles fracture; very painful, but not life threatening...] in inclement conditions at night. Transport to shore [before we had subscribed to DANBoater, referenced above] could not be provided until the next day [~16 hours- and one overnight- later] due to timing and inclement conditions. Subsequent ground transport and arrival at a medical facility occurred late on day 2. [~21 hours after the incident...] All-in-all not bad- unless you were the victim...

Lessons learned from this incident:
  • More powerful pain relief meds were needed [Now in inventory]
    Otherwise the kit was more than adequate
  • Voice communication with rescue and transport resources [via sat phone in this case] is invaluable in an emergency requiring assistance.

In hopes some of this may be worthwhile for you, and may none of us ever never need our kits!

Cheers!

Bill
A really worthwhile response. I'd suggest though that sooner or later every first aid kit gets opened. Hopefully just for minor cuts and scratches though. Your on a constantly moving home, that's on an ocean with lots of sharps and toxins. Your going to need it.

In australia St Johns provide an indepth marine first aid kit thats about $600. But as others have suggested, the quality and price is questionable. You can make one up for much better prices.

And keep in mind that there are standards to be met with a list of items for off shore sailing as recommended by the ISF (compulsary if your in the events) which are a really good guide for cruising. The lists are available on the race sites like the S2H site.
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Old 02-04-2016, 15:01   #10
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

There are a HUGE number of (Very extensive, & helpful) threads to be found on the topic, simply by clicking on the "Search" tab. And in the drop down menu which it'll give you, click on "Advanced" (search).
Then, on the upper left side of the screen, there's a box, into which you type what you're looking for. In this case, type "First Aid", & select the option to search "Thread Titles" (only). And it'll give you lots of results. As when I just idd it, it gave me this list http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...rchid=11454658

And in a good number of these threads, your queries are discussed in EXTENSIVE detail. Along with Lots of Excellent links for both; full 1st Aid Kits, as well as 1st Aid supplies & suppliers. Plus, where to get various types of, & levels of training.
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Old 02-04-2016, 16:16   #11
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

I think it's time to have one of these discussions again

There will be posts here telling to just buy one and be done with it. I do not agree and many, many (dozens) of cruisers who followed that advice have come to us for help from our medical supplies. I know there are many like us who carry an extensive supply but there must be plenty of cases that nobody is around and then you're frakked with one of those overpriced West Marine cases.

Like I already read above, you will need prescription drugs so may have to involve a doctor who is familiar with boats needing them. We manage to buy without prescription in 3rd world countries but it is becoming more difficult, especially when it comes to prescription pain killers.

My first recommendation is to get a good waterproof case. Imagine taking a bag out in the dinghy or life raft... everything will be soaked quickly. Pelican has specialized EMS cases as used by ambulances, rescue brigades etc.:
Amazon.com : 1500 - Case 16.75X11.18X6.12In Org W/Ems : Sports & Outdoors

Next you can just Google what you need for a "first responder kit". That is just a start; here are items you may want to add:

- battle dressings in several sizes. These are a gauze and a wrap bandage combined into one. I can't understand why they are not in every case. You can get them on-line easily:
http://www.amazon.com/Ever-Ready-Fir..._detailpages01
and
http://www.amazon.com/Ever-Ready-Fir...attle+dressing

- Celox hemostatic granules. These stop bleedings that are very hard or impossible to stop with the battle dressing and pressure alone:
http://www.amazon.com/Celox-Hemostat..._detailpages00

the above two items save many lives every day. I believe the US military has completely switched to Celox now.

- Suture kits. They are ready to go incl. needle and I'm sure everyone will succeed when it's needed.
http://www.amazon.com/Suture-Thread-...hf_yaod_s_cp_1

- Superglue. They don't want to sell medical grade anymore because idiots glue body parts together for fun but this will work in an emergency:
Amazon.com: Super Glue The Original Super Glue 15187, .07 Ounce, 12-pack: Home Improvement
(you use this to close wounds and I would try this before any suture product and skip all those strips that fall off etc.)

- Sam splint. Get a couple of sizes, i.e. one for a finger as well as leg/arm.
http://www.amazon.com/SAM-Rolled-Spl...1VGD9H5K9XXKZY

- Kerlix bandage rolls. Get plenty of these as you will run out when somebody needs frequent wound cleaning. We have 20 rolls in different sizes. They are labelled small medium large etc.
http://www.amazon.com/Original-Kerli...kendall+kerlix

- dental kit
Amazon.com: Adventure Medical Kits Dental Medic Kit: Health & Personal Care

- emergency blankets
http://www.amazon.com/Adventure-Medi...rgency+blanket

- chest seal
http://www.amazon.com/North-American...dical+supplies

- make sure to get enough alcohol prep pads
http://www.amazon.com/Dynarex-1113-L...ohol+prep+pads
use to clean small wounds that don't heal. We use it immediately when dirt got in or when it is from a reef cut etc.

- Glaciergel burn dressings:
http://www.amazon.com/Adventure-Medi...=burn+dressing

- Sting kill swabs
http://www.amazon.com/Sting-Kill-Dis..._3_a_it&sr=8-3
we have locals come for these almost every week!

- Insect bite wipes
http://www.amazon.com/Safetec-Insect..._2_a_it&sr=8-2

- Orajel single dose cold sore treatment
Amazon.com: Orajel Single Dose Cold Sore Treatment, 0.04 Oz, 2 Count: Health & Personal Care

- Make sure to have plenty of saline wound flush, iodine and hydrogen peroxide and 3-4" gauze pads for cleaning and disinfecting wounds. I have seen infections that did not retreat with anti-biotics but were gone in a day after treatment with Hydrogen Peroxide. Yes, there is some more scar tissue but you get to live
The saline wash is also to wash eyes or buy specialized for that (even though I think it is the same)

- broad spectrum anti-biotics.
We carry Cipro which is effective for infected reef cuts, tooth infection as well as urinary tract infections.

- Painkillers: we have ketoprofen for severe tooth ache as well as vicodin. You probably need a doctor recipe for vicodin everywhere.

- Norit or other charcoal tablets:
http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Way-Ac...arcoal+tablets
not just for diarrhea but also when something toxic has been ingested.
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Old 02-04-2016, 16:27   #12
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

A lot of great information. I just want to add that one of the best (and most overlooked) topical antibiotics is vinegar.

Use it liberally anywhere you can put it. Works wonders, even killing MRSA and other antibiotic resistant bacteria.

I also second training and reading as much as possible. Get a CPR certification. Very simple and can save your spouse's life.

And... just want to extend another deep felt thank you to ewsponberg for his contributions to all of our enjoyment on the water and for help he has given me personally that made my dreams on the water possible.

Enjoy your cruising... you've earned it!
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Old 02-04-2016, 17:39   #13
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

And I forgot some items:

- Vaseline gauze dress:
Amazon.com: Vaseline Gauze Dress - 3 X 9, Box Of 12: Health & Personal Care

- syringes and needles, scalpel, clamps all in sterile packaging for when no sterile instruments are available.

Like others have posted, medical training is a must. I was trained in the military but there are specialized courses for sailors. In Holland this is in Rotterdam, in the Havenziekenhuis hospital and I'm sure many countries have this.
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Old 02-04-2016, 18:53   #14
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

As I am the recipient of the wrwakefield first aid knowledge, and first aid kit, I thought I would give my thoughts. A few years ago, I really smashed up my wrist on a kayak adventure, when we were 20 miles from the nearest help, and in a by-water only access area. Bill tried to put a Sam's splint on me, and I wouldn't let him touch it, so he secured my arm to my torso with an ace bandage, had to spend the night in the tent, and called a water taxi/charter company to come get us the next morning. (REALLY abbreviated story) Several silver linings: the preparations that Bill made with the first aid kit all worked as planned, he had EMT certs, so he knew exactly what to do, the SAT phone was INVALUABLE. The only downside, (outside of ending our trip early), was that we didn't have stronger meds, so we do now. I also completed my EMT 1 training recently, as I want to be able to take care of emergencies with the same knowledge, and efficiency that I saw Bill give me. We bought the complete Adventure 3000 series, and added several things to it, just in case. Other sailors may think we are over the top with what and how much medical "stuff" we have, but I know from first hand experience, that if/when it's needed it, it will be ready.
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Old 02-04-2016, 19:32   #15
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Re: Recommended First Aid Kits

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkroar View Post
As I am the recipient of the wrwakefield first aid knowledge, and first aid kit, I thought I would give my thoughts. A few years ago, I really smashed up my wrist on a kayak adventure, when we were 20 miles from the nearest help, and in a by-water only access area. Bill tried to put a Sam's splint on me, and I wouldn't let him touch it, so he secured my arm to my torso with an ace bandage, had to spend the night in the tent, and called a water taxi/charter company to come get us the next morning. (REALLY abbreviated story) Several silver linings: the preparations that Bill made with the first aid kit all worked as planned, he had EMT certs, so he knew exactly what to do, the SAT phone was INVALUABLE. The only downside, (outside of ending our trip early), was that we didn't have stronger meds, so we do now. I also completed my EMT 1 training recently, as I want to be able to take care of emergencies with the same knowledge, and efficiency that I saw Bill give me. We bought the complete Adventure 3000 series, and added several things to it, just in case. Other sailors may think we are over the top with what and how much medical "stuff" we have, but I know from first hand experience, that if/when it's needed it, it will be ready.
This is the exact same kit we started out with. Many items I listed are included in this kit but the following are not and our experiences showed they are a must:

- Battle dressings. The kit has trauma pads which are a clumsy substitute, especially because it also lacks the Kerlix bandage rolls.
- Kerlix bandage rolls.
- Superglue.
- Celox.
- vaseline gauze.

The last item is not a life saver because regular gauze works as well, but we have dealt with rather serious scrape wounds on legs on several occasions (often) and it is very hard for both patient and nurse to change them as they become stuck to the wound badly. The vaseline gauze is a game changer.

I don't understand why superglue isn't added to every kit but I heard it is about liability as idiots glue their eyelids etc. It is the most effective suture method in the field and the most used method worldwide. The time of sowing your wounds shut Rambo style are behind us luckily

The 3000 kit has only one big negative and that is the bag itself. A waterproof case like the Pelican EMS I linked to above is a huge step up but also adds significant cost which is why it isn't included of-course. Before we bought this case, we improved the bag by packing all the items in ziplock bags to keep them dry. This works good enough when budget is limited. The separate mini-bags in the big bag also help a bit for rain and spray.

What I like from Adventure Medical is that they sell these mini-kits to add or replace things such as the dental kit, suture kit etc. These are also becoming waterproofed as long as they are not opened.
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