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assume the MO role, the mate must be proficient in running the vessel in any and all conditions. 4. Check with your insurance


company regarding riders (additional premiums for out of state and/or out of country coverage) and evacuation insurance for emergencies requiring an air ambulance. Transporting a seriously ill or injured crew person out of a remote location is not covered by most insurance policies. Air ambulance service is expensive and billing is for the round trip flight, running as high as $10,000 per hour. The bill can seriously dent any cruising budget. 5. Invest in and maintain a


comprehensive medical kit. Speak with your physician regarding a limited selection of prescription antibiotics and painkillers used in treating common infections and significant injuries that may occur during extended voyages. A crushed finger will not launch a USCG helicopter, but a splint, some antibiotics and a few prescription painkillers will return a crew member to watch standing, an important and significant achievement.


6. Contact your public health travel


nurse regarding immunizations for the regions in the float plan, prior to making port. Local government authorities may require a vessel to remain in quarantine until immunization of the crew is complete – a part of the visa process and a hassle if there are planes to catch. 7. Most cruising vessels expect


guests or supplemental crew for specific legs of a voyage. The anticipated crew should complete a medical profile addressing ongoing medical problems such as epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease and lung disease, and medications required in treatment. The crew member should bring all required medications aboard and discuss them with the medical officer. Crew should be briefed on the signs and symptoms suggesting worsening of the crew member’s existing illness. 8. Stock extra, disease specific


medications in the ditch bag in case of an abandon ship scenario. These conditions can destabilize at the worst possible time during an extended voyage.


9. For long distance cruisers, it


is helpful to establish a relationship with a medical professional who will respond to email. A SSB with a Pactor modem unit facilitates email from a Sailmail™ or Winlink™ account to the onboard computer. While communication has a delay, email may assist in the immediate treatment of a serious medical condition or even facilitate evacuation when advice and assistance is not readily available over the local VHF marine net or from local resources. 10. Carry several, good marine


medical reference texts. Read them prior to the voyage and stow them where they are easily accessible to the crew.


We will review specific kit content


and some of the better reference manuals in a future article – fair winds and following seas.


Curtis Edwards, MD, FACS General & Vascular Surgeon (retired) Senior FAA Aerospace Medical Examiner USCG Master 50 Ton Power and Sail


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48° NORTH, JANUARY 2011 PAGE 65


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