RYA First Aid at Sea

First Aid at Sea

Our one-day First Aid at Sea course covers all the usual first aid subjects, but from a boating perspective. It is aimed at anyone who goes afloat, whether on inland waters, rivers, estuaries or on cross channel passages.

In a medical emergency a little first aid knowledge and immediate action can save lives, especially in remote locations. This one-day course is designed to provide a working knowledge of first aid for people using small craft and to support skippers.

First Aid at Sea fulfils the requirements for:

  • professional skippers of small craft working within 60 miles of a safe haven
  • Boatmasters
  • Senior First Aid certificate needed by offshore racers
  • ISAF’s regulations on first aid training (OSR 4.08.4)
  • The course is recommended by the MCA and HSE.

Approved first aid certificates for RYA “higher level” courses

The following qualifications require the holder to complete an acceptable first aid course:

  • RYA instructors, trainers and coaches
  • Candidates for Certificate of Competence exams
  • Anyone applying for a commercial endorsement to a Powerboat Level 2 Powerboat Handling or Day Skipper completion certificate
  • Anyone applying for a commercial endorsement to an Advanced Powerboat course completion certificate (dated before 1 Jan 2005)

The RYA First Aid at Sea course teaches you exactly what you need to do in those situations when you are at sea and possibly far from immediate help

We discuss minor ailments such as headaches, sunburn, cuts and bruises, right through to the immediate response to serious medical emergencies.

RYA First Aid at Sea 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.

Our 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 have real hands on 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.

This course is a must for all who sail, and skippers should encourage their crews to attend. Remember it may be you who needs attention!

At the completion of the course you will be issued with the RYA Small Craft First Aid Certificate. This certificate is valid for 3 years from the time of issue and is a prerequisite for those taking the Coastal Skipper / Yachtmaster Offshore Examinations.

First Aid at Sea subjects specific to boating include:

  • the recovery position in a confined space
  • CPR, including the drowning protocol
  • use of AED – defibrillators
  • cold shock and hypothermia from immersion and/or exposure
  • seasickness and dehydration
  • medical assistance or advice by VHF
  • helicopter rescue

So, what should you consider having in your First Aid at Sea Kit?

A really good comprehensive first aid guide – One that is easy to understand.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what to do in an emergency. A good first aid manual comes in handy, taking you step-by-step through first aid care. We think it is best to read through it, become familiar with the layout, before you need it.

Keep a separate “Medical Kit”  for other items:

  • non-prescription drugs
  • pain reliever
  • anti-diarrhoea medication
  • antacid
  • laxative
  • seasickness remedies
  • personal medications – clearly marked

Other things to consider when putting together a marine first aid kit

  • Antibiotic Ointment or powder.
  • Antihistamine tablets or liquid – helps to control mild allergic reactions
  • Antiseptic solution
  • Individually wrapped swabs – Swabs are great space savers
  • Antiseptic wipes or gel – for cleaning your hands before touching open wounds
  • Antiseptic swabs – for wiping over bites and stings
  • Burn cream or gel –
  • Aloe Vera aids in healing, pain relief,  helps prevent blistering and scarring
  • Hydro-cortisone cream – reduces skin inflammation and itching caused by dermatitis
  • Sea sickness tablets – more effective if taken before the “storm” so to speak
  • Cold sore cream – if you are prone to cold sores sunlight and sunburn can trigger them so take some cold sore cream
  • Stings and Bites Cream – one with a local anaesthetic especially for the kids
  • Band Aids – a variety of shapes and sizes for small cuts and scrapes
  • Thermometer
  • Triangular Bandage – For slings, padding, strapping limbs to splints when fractures are suspected
  • Steri-strips (Butter-fly sutures, Adhesive Sutures, Adhesive Closures) – used to pull a small gaping cut together
  • Tweezers – A good pair of tweezers has easy-to-grip handles
  • Vinyl based (non-allergic) gloves
  • Elastic (compression) and crepe bandages – a few different widths
  • Gauze squares – for either applying cream, gels or antiseptic
  • Gauze and non-adhesive dressing pads – preferably sterile
  • Normal saline – stock small vials and use them to wash over wound and cuts
  • Adhesive Tape – Get a good quality tape that will not get brittle with age
  • CPR Mask – learn how to perform CPR before you go on your adventure
  • Aluminium/Foam Splints – for possible fractured leg
  • Finger splints – Two tongue depressors or ice block sticks are an excellent size for the job
  • Instant Cold Pack/s – These are so useful with bruising, swelling and sprains
  • Eye Wash – stock the single use vials or even use normal saline vials
  • Petroleum jelly tube/pot – helps prevent wind burn, moisturises chapped lips
  • Safety Pins – use tape to do most of the jobs that safety pins do
  • Curved Scissors – Curved medical ones are great as they don’t have sharp points
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen – prevention of sunburn and long term skin damage
  • Waterproof or Duck Tape – many uses not just for first aid
  • Mobile phone – charged
  • Marine band radio
  • Emergency flares

Remember to pack in your bags any prescription medication you and/or your family are taking. Whether it be for asthma, allergies or some other aliment because a pharmacy may be quite a distance away or a local one may not stock what you require.

When an accident or injury occurs you may not have much time to read a manual while trying to give first aid to an injured person.

Remember you should know how to

  • perform CPR
  • how to stop bleeding
  • first aid for cuts and scrapes
  • stabilise a fractured limb
  • treat burns
  • snake bites
  • spider bites
  • insect bites
  • other minor injuries

Having a comprehensive marine first aid kit when you are out on the high seas will make the adventure just a little bit safer.