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Old 04-10-2001
William Mahaffy William Mahaffy is offline
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Crew Medical Training

Where can I get the training to learn certain medical procedures such as putting in an IV or a catheter, or doing suturing?

Bill Mahaffy responds:

Because the skills you refer to would not be covered in an advanced first-aid course, you might contact your local fire department or ambulance corps and explain your situation. They may have the mannequins to practice IV starts. Also, check with your health-care provider. Since you will be getting the prescriptions for the medical kit from them, they may also be able to direct you to a local resource for learning these skills.

Many of the resource texts (I've listed them in a previous article, see The On Board Medical Kit, Part I) offer step-by-step instructions for these skills. While this is no substitute for hands-on training, it will at least refresh your memory should you have to perform a procedure at sea.

There are a few seminars that instruct voyaging sailors on the more sophisticated medical procedures and techniques. Check with US SAILING (www.ussailing.org) for seminars given through their Safety at Sea lecture series. Over the years, I have trained sailors preparing for a voyage in simple suturing and IV techniques, and they caught on quickly. However, these maneuvers take a good deal of practice to master, so don't expect to be proficient after just a weekend seminar. These seminars are intended to impart a basic understanding of the techniques. With that and a good text, you should be able to get the job done in an offshore emergency.