Group: Forum Members
I wrote this for another venue, some of which has already appeared in the Forum, but I thought it might be of interest.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Crew preparation for passage making: medical
Having crew, (especially unfamiliar crew including friends one does not have significant sea miles with), on board for a passage is a responsibility for a skipper in a multitude of ways: not least of which is to be prepared ahead of time for events that are unlikely to occur. One area that is often neglected (or poorly prepared for) is preparation for medical events involving crew.
My experience is that people, in everyday life and even with their physicians, are pretty poor reporters about their medical history and very much tend to minimize or omit concerns.
I would suggest that each skipper start by saying to each crew personally that he/she needs to cover some safety bases and continue by asking directly whether there are any concerns, even very small ones, medical or otherwise, that might interfere with performing as crew on the passage. Most concerns, like diabetes or allergies, when well anticipated, can be planned ahead for thereby allowing the crew to participate without a problem: it is the unknown medical history issue that can become problematic, even lethal.
I would consider it prudent to follow the above by having each crew fill out a medical history form (see below for a possibly template) that would be given to the skipper (or kept by the “medical officer” if one is so designated among the crew) in a sealed envelope only to be opened in an emergency.
Additional thoughts on sailing to other countries in addendum below.
Addensum 1: Suggested template: I am sure I have left some important items out.
Next of kin (and contact info):
Physician (with contact info):
Current medications: (include baby aspirin)
Health history: Surgical:
Eye glasses (bring a spare) and rx:
Last health exam:
For all prescription drugs, it is prudent to carry the actual prescriptions with the Doctor’s signature (or copies). Some countries are really skittish about the active ingredients in the pain-killer type meds that some of us carry on an extended passage or when visiting isolated areas. For all prescription drugs, when questioned about their use, it might be helpful to have a letter on your Drs. letterhead saying that he/she has talked with you about the administering of these medications.
Finally, when asked about whether you have drugs aboard, we continue to answer “No” with the idea that we are being asked about illegal drugs. But we are aware that the officials may also be inquiring about prescription drugs. An acquaintance checked into St. Peterburg, Russia, the day after we did and answered “no” to drugs only to have dogs find his med kit with Tylenol with Codeine (or the like). He was arrested and it was messy for a while: it turned out that the officials were more concerned about their experience of being lied to over the drugs themselves.