Many people dream of traveling the world by sea, spending weeks, months and even years exploring the amazing treasures our world has to offer. For some, the dream is a leisurely cruise from port to port along America's Great Loop. For others, it's a family marine life adventure off the Alaskan coast, or chartering a catamaran with friends for a few weeks in the Caribbean islands each year.
For boaters new to long-distance sailing and the cruising lifestyle, once the boat's ready and stocked and the forecast turns smooth and sunny for the next several days, the excitement of donning the captain's hat and heading out on your own private adventure is absolutely irresistable. Besides, your mate took a first-aid class just last year, and that top-of-the-line first-aid kit you bought a month ago is securely stowed below so you're prepared for just about anything -- right?
Not so fast, skipper.
Experienced boaters will tell you preparation is key to an enjoyable trip, and that thorough preparation means having a plan to handle the unexpected sea dragons you may encounter.
So while you're charting your next course, take some time to familiarize yourself with the details and availability of the most important boater emergency resources along your planned route: Search and Rescue, Medical Evacuation, and Medical Repatriation. Aside from having multiple reliable forms of communications on board, quick and easy access to these services is inarguably the most important emergency backup tool a long-distance boater can have. Simply put, knowing who to call and what to expect when things get rough could, quite possibly, save your life.
In this article, you will learn the purpose of each service, when to use it, and what to expect when you do.
Search and rescue (SAR) is the search for and provision of aid to people who are lost, in distress, or in imminent danger on land or sea. Specially-trained teams of search and first-responder professionals plan and perform these operations using a variety of equipment suited to the terrain including aircraft, surface craft, and submarines. (See USLegal.com and Wikipedia.)
Medical Evacuation (MedEvac) is the transportation of a person experiencing a medical emergency to the closest available medical facility as quickly and safely as possible. Medical evacuations are usually conducted by specially-trained first-responders or medical personnel. Depending on the individual's current location and medical condition, the terrain being covered, and the proximity to health care facilities, transportation may be provided using one or a combination of methods including boats, helicopters, planes, automobiles, and animal conveyance.
Medical repatriation refers to when a patient is returned home to receive medical care. The primary difference between medical repatriation and medical evacuation is where the patient is taken. In a medical evacuation situation, which is usually a medical emergency, the patient is transported to the closest medical facility for stabilization, diagnosis and emergency care. Depending on the location and capabilities of the facility, however, it may or may not be the best choice for ongoing treatment. In that case, once the patient's condition has stabilized and he or she has been cleared by the medical professionals for travel home, medical repatration transports the patient to his or her home country for a higher, or more appropriate, level of primary or follow-up care.
At DAN Boater, we handle thousands of emergency hotline calls from all over the world each year, and an average of two medical evacuations a week, so we know first-hand how important it is to have these essential emergency services in place before you ever need them. If you're planning a trip, give us a call for tips on handling emergencies while en route to your destination.
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