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Disasters can happen anywhere; are you prepared?


Medical emergencies happen every day. These emergencies can be accidental, such as car accidents, falls or cuts. They can be health-related, such as in the case of a heart attack and stroke.

There are environmental emergencies caused by mother nature, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados. And another group of medical emergencies are caused by acts of terrorism, war and violent criminals.

People who work on yachts must be prepared for any type of medical emergency. They receive training and, hopefully, practice in drills, so that in the case of an emergency, their training kicks in, they can rise above any fear or concern, and they can be of the most help.

It is difficult to predict when and where a medical emergency will happen. The best way to be prepared is to be aware of the surrounding situation, to keep current with CPR AED and first aid training, and have the best tools on hand in as many places as possible. That means not only the yacht, galley and engine room, but also the tender, the Jet Ski, the yacht’s car, the day-trip backpack, etc.

Here are a few medical emergency situations that recently occurred. If you had been there, would you have been able to assist?

Below are a few of the recent events that made the headlines this year.

Bakersfield, Calif., July 16:,Fourteen people were hospitalized after being wounded in a drive-by shooting.

Nice, France, July 14: At least 84 killed and 202 others injured after a truck purposefully drove through a crowd at a Bastille Day celebration.

Dallas, Texas, July 7: A lone gunman killed five police officers and injured nine others as they worked protecting protesters.

Baghdad, Iraq, July 3: About 300 dead after a suicide truck bomb blew up in the street in front of a popular shopping area.

Istanbul, Turkey, June 28: 44 killed in an attack with gunshots and suicide bombings at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

Orlando, Fla., June 12: 49 killed and 53 injured by a gunman in a nightclub.

Lahore, Pakistan, March 27: 72 killed, including 29 children, in a bombing at a park.

Brussels, March 22: 32 dead in three suicide bombings, two at the airport and one at a subway station.

Reading this, one might wonder what these suicide bombings and military-style attacks have to do with yachting. Most of these attacks happened in war zones, places yachts don’t visit. But they can happen anywhere — airports, subway stations, nightclubs, parks.

In Chicago, so far this year 336 people have been killed by gunshot, 1,937 more people wounded.  When disasters such as those listed occur, they can overwhelm local emergency medical services. On dry land, we can pick up the phone and call for help. And within 8-12 minutes, it arrives.

But just like at sea, during a major incident, help is not so close. When there is a major incident, we are the ones tasked with providing emergency medical care.

My question is, are you prepared?

Take a few minutes to think about how prepared you and your crew mates are for a disaster. Faced with someone who has been shot, would you know what to do? Are your emergency medical first aid skills up to date? If you were the victim, who around you has the training and skills necessary to help you? If you were impaled with something, would they leave the item in, or pull it out? If you were shot, would your team know how to control the bleeding?

If you don’t feel comfortable either in your skills or in the skills of those around you, learn. Schedule to take a class.

Next, make certain the right equipment and supplies are onboard to treat people in a medical emergencies, including the ones to protect yourself, Personal Protective Equipment. PPE includes gloves, glasses and a CPR barrier mask. These protect first responders from bloodborne pathogens.

Look at all emergency medical first aid kits onboard. At a minimum, refresh the contents every year. Make certain you know what each item does, and it is up to date.

It is not possible to have PPE and first aid kits everywhere, but the more places you have them — and the more often you open them and go through them — the better your odds of being able to safely help a person in need.

Trained as an emergency medical technician, Keith Murray now owns The CPR School, which provides onboard CPR, AED and first-aid training as well as AED sales and service. Contact him through Comments on this column are welcome at

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