Basic First Aid Training

Author: Capt. Srivastava (Marine Master)

It might appear surprising as to why basic first aid training is relevant to the marine profession. As you would understand that medical emergencies can occur anywhere and anytime. Seafaring as a profession has always been considered dangerous. The crew members are exposed to extreme weather conditions while undertaking long voyages. Accidents are frequent can take a toll on the health of the members. Hence basic first aid training becomes critical as access to a regular medical facility is not easy.

International organizations like WHO and IMO have time and again issued guidelines regarding provision of first aid to sea farers at their work place, in other words medical care while on board. Before this discussion can be carried on further it is important to understand the meaning and concept of basic first aid training.

What is First Aid?

First aid is the immediate treatment that is offered to a victim who has suffered a sudden illness or injury. This treatment is given while proper medical aid is being awaited. The aims of providing first aid are:

  • Assist in recovery
  • Preservation of life
  • Prevention of further harm

Aid is given with the aim of restrict the movement of the victim and avert a greater risk to the victim and ensure a better and rapid recovery. It is always preferred that first aid be given by a person who is properly trained to do so.

Basic First Aid Training For Use On Board:

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An injury while on board has the potential of being risky. It is considered risky for the following reasons:

  • No immediate access to proper medical care. A patient is dependent on the skills of his co worker who is designated to serve as the medical officer
  • Meager or inappropriate first aid tools. A medical emergency can be of any nature. Though first aid kits are available on board, but it is not necessary that the kit provides a medicine or equipment that is required for providing first aid

With time many steps have been taken to mitigate the risk to life occurring due to medical emergencies or otherwise. It is mandatory for every ship that sets sails to have a qualified medical officer on board. These trained medical officers serve the purpose well in case of minor injuries and accidents but do not suffice in case any thing major as they are not from the medical background rather sea farers who are trained to serve as medical officers.

Satellite Communication a Boon:

There were times, when the only medical aid that could be provided was giving a sedative or analgesic to ease the pain of the victim. Radio Communication was resorted to communicate with physicians on shore so that right kind of aid could be given to a victim. The limitation with radio communication was availability of network. Other options changing the course of the ship, using life boats and helicopters to evacuate the victim are other options that were and are often resorted to depending on the viability.

Satellite Communication is seen as a boon in case of medical emergencies while on board. Because of satellite communication, telemedicine is a viable solution to tackle an emergency. Telemedicine allows use of emails and live video transmission to provide medical aid. With improvisation in technology, high quality video and audio transmission is possible making telemedicine a viable option. It allows real time monitoring of the victim.

Human Resource is the most precious and costly resource for an employer. Any injury or illness that an employee suffers leaves an indent on the pocket of the employer in one way or the other. Providing healthy and safe work conditions goes a long way in retention of an employee. Telemedicine further eliminates the need to resort to expensive options like diverting the vessel, or calling for a helicopter. These are some of the reasons that are prompting companies to invest in Telemedicine.

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