In most incidents on the water, help is not readily available and in some cases not available for several hours. If there is a medical emergency on board, it is important for the skipper or a nominated leader to take control and ensure a calm atmosphere. Someone responsible also needs to be able to take control of the boat if the skipper is the only one on board able to administer simple first aid practices.
First aid kit
Your first aid kit should include the following items:
• 1 pair of scissors
• 1 packet of safety pins
• 1 roll of sticking plaster
• 1 packet plaster dressing strips
• Assorted bandages
• 2 triangular bandages
• 1 packet sterile gauze squares 5cm x 5cm
• Syrup of Ipecac 100ml
• 1 bottle of vinegar
Clean the area around the cut well with soap and water.
Remove any foreign material. Apply antiseptic solution to the surrounding area.
Seal small cuts with adhesive plaster. For larger cuts apply an appropriately sized sterile dressing and bandage firmly to lessen bleeding.
Immediately flood the burnt area for about ten minutes to limit tissue damage.
Cover burnt area with loose clean dry cloth to prevent contamination.
DO NOT break blisters, peel adherent clothing, or apply lotions, ointments, creams or powders. These make assessment difficult.
For more information on first aid courses or first aid kits please call St John Ambulance Australia (Qld) on toll free, 1300 360 455 or visit www.stjohnqld.com.au
Hypothermia can be mistaken for drowsiness.
There are, however, some signs and symptoms which will allow you to make an immediate evaluation.
• Adults – cold to touch; pulse slow, weak or imperceptible; breathing slow and shallow.
• Children – cold to touch; quiet and lacking appetite.
Basic steps to treat hypothermia:
• Remove all wet clothing when alternative warm, dry clothing or blankets are available.
• Allow the patient to warm gradually with the aid of warm towels and blankets or gentle sources of warmth, including body heat (never an unwrapped hot water bottle or alcohol).
• Transport the victim to medical aid without delay.
• Keep an aluminium ‘space blanket’ on board.
Maximising survival time
Various techniques have been developed to maximise survival time in the water. The main ones are summarised as follows:
A well-known technique requiring a continuous movement of arms and legs in a pedaling motion to maintain the head above water.
Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP):
In addition to the head, normally held clear of the water, areas of the body through which heat loss occurs are the sides of the chest and the groin.
These areas can be protected by holding the arms down the sides and up across the chest and raising the knees and holding them together.
This technique was developed to enable people who are poor swimmers to remain afloat unaided.
The swimmer lies forward in the water, at rest and holding breath. The head is raised for a breath every 10 seconds or so.
The technique has apparently been successful in warm waters but has the disadvantage that, in cold water, heat loss caused by immersing the head is dramatically increased.
People in the water, by huddling close together so that chest and arms are protected, can significantly reduce the rate at which the body loses heat and increase survival time by up to 50 per cent.
Huddle to prevent loss of body heat.