The knife is still in the arm of the man in front of me, he moans and yells, and there is a lot of blood. I see June a few meters away, she is also bleeding from a deep cut in her arm, but there is no knife. Never mind June, my focus is on the man with the knife, a focus ensured by the adrenalin rushing through my body. But why does he have a knife in his arm – that was not part of the introduction? Because this is a case – the knife is a dummy and the blood is fake – and another team is handling June, who is just a playing the role of an injured person.
June, Laura and I have this weekend participated in yet another important and exciting training course, learning what we hope we never have to use to its full extent. The course was a new and tailor made first aid course at The Centre for Maritime Health Service (CMS) on the island of Fanø, based on requirements from DOCA. We were a kind of guinea pigs as this was the very first course of its kind for cruisers, however, we never felt it like that. Everything was very professional organized and conveyed – there is no doubt that this is what they excel in at CMS, which is a part of the Danish Maritime Authority. Well, we were actually guinea pigs, because 80 to 90 percent of the training were hands-on practicing and cases. A very effective way of learning.
In a few days an official First Aid Certificate pops up in our inboxes. An important knowledge and training has been gained, something we all, sailors and landlubbers, should have. But we got another certificate as well, the extended part of the course relevant for all offshore cruisers. At sea, the help is further away, this applies a few miles from the coast, but especially if injuries or illness occurs far out on an ocean, with hours or days before you get help.
We have practiced cleaning, sewing and gluing wounds and cuts. Luckily not on each other’s, but using a small part of a pig. Inserting urinary catheters was luckily done on dummies, and the same applied for CPR and dental treatments. But when it came to practicing injections and eye examinations we were practicing on each other. This was not as bad as you might think.
Another important take away was not just to start sewing a wound as soon as we see it, and for that matter starting any other treatment, that could add other complications and risks. Through the so-called ABCDE checklist, we learned the order of the first aid, and just as important to collect objective values (like pulse, saturation, breathing frequency and quality, etc.) and to communicate these to a doctor. Sewing or other treatment will typically not start until they ask you to do so, and then under their supervision. The access to a doctor could be through a satellite connection or VHF to nearby ships, which also has persons in charge of medical care and better equipment.
It has been a fantastic weekend. An excellent course, hanging out with other cruisers hearing about their big plans, and a beautiful island, which we did not get to see enough of. After all, learning as much first aid was our focus.