Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review of First Aid Afloat . . . Mate

When I ordered First Aid Afloat, prepublication and sight unseen, I did not realize that the publisher, Wiley Nautical, was a British Publisher. I encountered the first giveaway on page 18, when I read, “Heart disease is the main cause of death in the United Kingdom.” While British-isms abound in this 127 page paperback, the only time the British bias is a detriment is on pages 108-109, where all the directions for obtaining radio medical advice refers to the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, and the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and where all the references to the “coastguard” are to the British coastguard.

I am new to sailing, having bought my first sailboat only a few months ago. One of the first things I did after buying the 24 footer was to assemble a first aid kit.

While I might be new to sailing, I am not new to first aid or emergency medicine. In my younger years I was an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and held various ARC First Aid certifications as well as both ARC and American Heart Association CPR certifications. I was a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician and worked as a professional EMT for nine months. Therefore, I knew the importance of having a well-stocked first aid kit aboard my sail boat, and I know how to use everything in it.

I bought First Aid Afloat not so that I could read it and use it in an emergency, but so that I could put in my boat’s first aid kit for other people to use in case I was not on board or I was sick or injured and could not render first aid to myself. Not overly technical and written and illustrated clear enough for the layperson, First Aid Afloat could very save a life, includingmy own.

What I like most about this book is that it is small boat specific. Both a powerboat and a sailboat appear on the cover, but neither is large. The text assumes one is aboard a small yacht. This is most obvious on page 54, where the text reads, “Commercially available splints for the leg are available, but tend to be bulky, and would tie up too much space on board a small yacht to be carried as part of the emergency kit."

A couple other examples of the small boat specificity of the text are on page 106. “When moving a causality, particularly in the small confined spaces on a yacht, you must consider personal and causality safety, the condition of the causality, manpower and equipment on board, and basic principles of lifting and moving.” Also “Improvisation is useful. For example, a stretcher can be fashioned from jackets and dinghy oars. The oars can be placed through the jacket sleeves with jacket fronts closed around them to create the stretcher, but always test that it will take the casualty’s weight before using it.”

There are probably more books about emergency first aid than could fit on a small boat, including many about first aid in wilderness and backcountry settings as well as first aid manuals specifically aimed toward recreational boaters and professional mariners. I find this slim volume complete enough for the small sailboat I own, one that will probably be limited to day cruises, or no more than an overnight cruise, and probably never out of radio range or more than a few hours from shore. It might even be the only first aid manual I keep in my boats first aid kit.

The list price of First Aid Afloat, by Sandra Roberts, is $26.95, but I bought it from Amazon.Com for $17.95.

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