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Safety aboard – Care, Health & First Aid

 

imageWhile being careful and avoiding accidents is a natural instinct for us, doing so aboard is of even more importance as the distance in miles and hours to the nearest professional help is always longer than ashore.

What complicates matters on a boat is that the environment itself makes being careful difficult. First of all, the boat itself is constantly moving around – sometimes at extreme angles and accelerations. Secondly, the more the boat is rocking and rolling around you, the more likely it is that you are going to have to go and do something active, which increases the chances of something going awry.

Since most sicknesses are bacteria/virus borne and often have human carriers, sailors are less likely to contract them – living away from densely populated urban centres. We won’t catch anything offshore that we didn’t already bring with us and most likely started incubating before departing the last port. While it is important to pay attention to hygiene aboard in order to avoid bacteria to get a foothold, the major concern, in my opinion, is to attempt to prevent and avoid accidents. No matter how well-designed, a boat is a myriad of sharp corners and edges, oddly shaped object and protuberances that all seem to want to do nothing else than snag parts of your body.

imageThe major cause of accidents aboard a sailboat is the galley. Be it open flames or scalding water, the galley has plenty of potential to do damage and the recommendation for galley cooks to wear thick clothing (oilskins or the like) while working in weather is understandable, but not necessarily practicable, particularly in tropical climes.

With the advent of proximate first aid in urban areas most of us have little or no knowledge of first-aid measures. Both initial and advanced first-aid courses teach measures and methods to provide initial care and patient stabilization until professionals arrive. Getting training that goes beyond this basic set of skills is difficult to find as the target audience is quite small, so far I have seen classes for sailors and for wilderness guides as both groups need to ensure that the injured person is not only given initial aid but then stabilized for a lengthy transport and potentially the measures need to last for days or weeks.

So while a first-responder course teaches how to stop a bad cut from bleeding , the advanced class needs to augment that skill with the ability to change the dressings or, if necessary, to suture the wound.

I’ve had a number of first-aid courses of varying levels but I wonder how effective I will be when called upon to use the skills I have been taught!

imageI can recommend the Hamble School of Yachting Courses as an excellent RYA Training Centre. The RYA First Aid course is designed to teach you exactly what to do in these situations. From the minor ailments such as headaches, sunburn and small lesions through to the immediate response to serious medical emergencies. This course covers the situations that a yachtsman is likely to encounter. There is particular emphasis on resuscitation techniques and the “first care” of a man overboard victim. Your instructor will explain the procedures for obtaining outside medical assistance such as “pan pan” and the helicopter rescue service and can advise you on the correct first aid stores for your own boat. Our instructors all have experience of the particular difficulties of administering first aid within the confines of a small boat away from land and you will have the chance to try actions such as CPR and the recovery position both in the classroom and on a yacht.

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There are a number of excellent books available in both electronic and print form which I consider to be indispensable aboard any boat more then 30 minutes from primary health care.

I’ve listed them below:

Title Link Description
Ship Captains Medical Guide image The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide is intended primarily for use on ships where no doctor is carried and it is necessary for laymen to assess and treat injuries and to diagnose and treat ill health. The Guide can also be recommended for use in other situations where professional medical advice is not readily available, for example on expeditions.

For the 22nd edition the Guide has been comprehensively reviewed and updated. It contains a wide range of authoritative advice – from birth to death, from first aid, general nursing, hygiene and the prevention of disease, to the treatment of injuries and diseases. The recommended measures for prevention and treatment can be safely carried out by an intelligent layman.

RYA First Aid Manual image Step-by-step photographs show you how to treat casualties and over 100 medical conditions and injuries, from minor burns to heart attacks. Find information on the latest life-saving procedures and resuscitation guidelines as well as basic first aid techniques, like bandaging and applying dressings. Plus, chapters explain what it’s like being a first aider, what to do in an emergency situation and how to look after a casualty. Keep it handy – for home, for work and for leisure
Where There is No Doctor image This is the most widely used health education book in tropical and sub-tropical developing countries. Based on David Werner‘s experiences at his Project Piaxtla in western Mexico, it was originally written in 1970 in Spanish as Donde No Hay Doctor. It has since been revised multiple times, has sold over one million copies and been translated into over 100 languages issued by the Hesperian Foundation 

PDF Download  – costs only $4

Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook 1st Edition 2001 image Contains a great store of information particularly useful when improvisation is necessary.

PDF Download (64Mb) – Free

Wound Closure Manual Wound Closure Manual (PDF) – Free Issued by Johnson & Johnson, it is relatively easy to comprehend.

Many of the First Aid Kits available in the average chandlery or online are pathetic. They include cut down version of dressings or not enough or just miss out on what should be essential – such as your own hypodermic syringe.

 

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We have resorted to building our own – that even meant sourcing a suitable box that could contain the kit – I recommend looking at fishing tackle boxes – much more practical that the ridiculous boxes that made up kits come in.

 

Details of medical stores to be carried by UK commercial ships are included in the current statutory Merchant Shipping Notice (and it’s accompanying Corrigendum) issued under the Merchant Shipping and Fishing (Medical Stores) Regulations 1995 as amended.

The Merchant Shipping Notice also includes advice on the use, potential side effects and precautions associated with the medical stores and should be read in conjunction with the Guide.

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Polar Diagrams ….an update

I have had a number of requests for sources of polar diagrams for cruising sailors following my previous post here. Unfortunately the link I gave in that post to a free polar diagram app no longer works, but there is a great little replacement that is worth looking at – iPolar 

  • iPolar generates sailing yachts polars of cruising yachts and cruiser racers from a very simple set of data
     
  • Mandatory Input data: Length Overall, Displacement, Mainsail area, jib area (units can be set to metric or imperial) 
     
  • Optional data: Symmetrical Spinnaker area, Assymetrical spinnaker area

Its available in the Apple App Store.

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YouTube low bandwidth option…

Following on from my recent post “Watching UK TV abroad”, I thought readers may be interested in new YouTube developments too.

Now that I have become a liveaboard albeit in a UK Marina (!) I now realise how annoying a poor an internet connection can be. So ways of getting content on the web to display over low bandwidth connections is key.

YouTube have two new schemes that help improve the experience.

  • Firstly, low bandwidth  YouTube: This is for YouTube content itself there is the new “YouTube Feather” project. The "Feather" project is intended to serve YouTube video pages with the lowest latency possible. It achieves this by severely limiting the features available to the viewer and making use of advanced web techniques for reducing the total amount of bytes downloaded by the browser. It is a work in progress and may not work for all videos.
  • Secondly, YouTube Movies: YouTube have been redesigning how people who have “Channels” hosted by YouTube can improve the display of their content. Being more aware of the screen size limitations and bandwidth consideration of smartphones, tablets and so on. This is called the YouTube One Channel project. One of the best “Channels” that has launched using this new design is the YouTubeMovies Channel. That’s right. You can now watch full length Hollywood and Bollywood movies online, without any advertisements, for free on Youtube. Many movie studios have partnered with Youtube to stream their popular movies online via Youtube.

Happy surfing..

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Is it the year of the Watch?

During his Fall COMDEX 2002 keynote address, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates briefly unveiled the company’s Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT) initiative, in which everyday devices such as alarm clocks, wristwatches, key chains, and even refrigerator magnets are made more intelligent through a new hardware and software platform that is small enough to scale down to the sizes required by such devices…it never caught on… and SPOT bit the dust in 2010. Since 2002, we have seen the records in small smart devices set by Apple – first with iPods then iPhones then iPads….but whatever happened to the humble wristwatch?

Recently WIMM Labs launched WIMM Wearable Platform – again aimed at very small devices – but they too seem to have gone quiet – their web site says “During the summer of 2012, WIMM Labs entered into an exclusive, confidential relationship for our technology and ceased sales of the Developer Preview Kit….”.

I though the smart wristwatch device would be made redundant by better and better smartphones – how many young people today even wear a watch?

Garmin_WatchNow along comes Garmin with the quatixtm.

It looks like Garmin are using their ANT technology to connect up this watch with other Garmin nav equipment – this is low power RF technology. The ANT protocol is designed and marketed by Dynastream Innovations Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of  Garmin.

The quatixtm is a high-sensitivity GPS navigator marine watch.

It’s the only GPS-enabled device that provides an incredible range of marine navigation features including automatic MOB detection, remote control of Garmin equipment, and streaming NMEA 2000® data to a navigating marine watch.

A highly accurate watch, it also includes sailing features never before combined into 1 watch, such as race countdown timer, virtual starting line, tack assist and tidal information.

It’s also equipped with an automatically calibrating altimeter and barometer, a 3-axis compass, temperature sensor and tide information.

Plus, it shares data wirelessly with other compatible Garmin apps.

  • Stream NMEA 2000 Data to Your WristWhen paired with a Garmin GNT™ 10 NMEA Transceiver (sold separately), you can wirelessly stream and view NMEA 2000 data, such as wind speed and direction, water depth, and more right on your wrist.
  • Specialized Sailing Features – The quatixtm combines advanced sail racing tools for unparalleled awareness and a competitive edge during a racing competition. quatixtm can easily set up a virtual starting line between 2 GPS waypoints. It then combines the starting line with the built-in countdown timer to calculate both distance to the line as well as desired speed and burn time available, which enables the vessel to cross the line at maximum speed at the exact starting time. Once the race has begun, the watch then switches to Tack Assist mode and indicates whether the vessel is getting headed or lifted based on the optimal tack angle provided and makes for a more efficient and controlled sailing experience.
  • Autopilot Remote Control Functions – This amazing watch also features built-in remote capabilities. It allows you to control a Garmin autopilot so you can move around on the boat while having information and control on your wrist.
  • Automatic Wireless MOB Activation – Should a crewmember wearing a quatixtm fall overboard, quatixtm will automatically send an MOB alert to the chart plotter (requires GNT™ 10 NMEA Transceiver sold separately).

Watch this space Smile

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$10 app puts Navtex on your Android Phone!

Now and again you see a really good bit of programming.

Check out DroidNavtex.

DroidNavtexThis brilliant little app can decode NAVTEX messages from any SSB, amateur radio, or shortwave receiver.

So you need two things – an Android smartphone and an SSB receiver.

Smartphone – At the moment there is only an Android version of the app so good news if you have an Android smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy Note, Samsung Galaxy SII, or an Android tablet like the Asus Transformer TF101

SSB receiver – I have a Tecsun PL660 on board – but judging by user feedback, people have also used the Sony ICF-SW100 and the Sony ICF-SW7600 successfully.

NAVTEX (Navigational Telex) is an international automated medium frequency direct-printing service for delivery of navigational and meteorological warnings and forecasts, as well as urgent marine safety information to ships. It was developed to provide a low-cost, simple, and automated means of receiving this information aboard ships at sea within approximately 370 km (200 nautical miles) off shore.

NAVTEX broadcasts are primarily made on the Medium frequencies of 518 kHz and 490 kHz. The international NAVTEX frequency is 518 kHz, and these broadcasts should always be in English. Regional transmission of NAVTEX uses 490 kHz specifically for broadcasts in local languages. In the USA NAVTEX is broadcast by the U.S. Coast Guard District Broadcast Notices to Mariners affecting ships outside the line of demarcation, and inside the line of demarcation in areas where deep draft vessels operate.

DroidNavtex is able to decode NAVTEX messages from your receiver through the phones/tablets microphone or through a connected interface. Special audio filters even decode very weak signals through the microphone and make DroidNavtex a very affordable alternative to high priced decoders.

Even if you already have a dedicated Navtex receiver on board, you can use this app with your smartphone or tablet while in the marina cafe, or at home when you are planning – brilliant.

  • An “Auto mode” finds the frequency and the sideband of the Navtex signal automatically. With “Auto mode” turned off the frequency and sideband can be adjusted manually
  • Special audio filters decode very weak signals
  • A built-in database stores the received messages which can then be filtered, sorted and shared. Messages can be deleted individually, in groups or by age
  • To save battery power 7 timers can be set to start DroidNavtex at a given time to decode messages. All timers can be set in local time or UTC

I hope they bring out an Apple OS version they really deserve to sell a million! Smile

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