This is a big post, and there is a reason for this. Injuries happen and it is critically important and we have covered some of the most common injuries in detail. Please be warned, this newsletter contains graphic images.
While we don’t like to think about injuries happening…sometimes they just do!
Injuries happen on commercial fishing boats
Injuries happen on charter vessels
Injuries happen on all vessels
It’s how we handle injuries that count and having the appropriate training is the first step in ensuring they are handled correctly.
If you have a commercial ticket then having current First Aid training is a requirement and a requirement that’s often overlooked by many.
The most common injuries we see are…
Scalds and Burns
A scald is caused by something wet such hot water or steam. Prawn cookers are high danger areas due to boiling water and vessel movement which can cause free surface effect allowing the hot water to splash out of the cooker with the potential of scalding.
You can get burns from hot oil/fat in the galley, hot items in the engine room and fires onboard. Burns have 3 classifications:
First degree (superficial) burns which only affect the outer layer of skin, the epidermis. The burn site is red, painful, dry with no blisters.
Second degree (partial thickness) burns involve the epidermis and part of the lower layer of skin, the dermis. The burn site is looks red, blistered and may be swollen and painful.
Third degree burns go through both layers of the skin and underlying tissue as well as the deeper tissue, possibly involving muscle and bone. There is no feeling in the area since the nerve endings are destroyed.
Cuts and abrasions
Cuts or incised wounds are caused by sharp objects such as knives or shards of glass slicing into the skin. Depending on the injury underlying blood vessels can be punctured leading to significant blood loss. A severed artery is a medical emergency because the muscular action of this blood vessel will pump the entire blood supply out of the wound in just a few minutes.
Abrasions are where the surface layers of the skin (epidermis) has been broken. Thin skinned bony areas (knees, ankles and elbows) are more prone to abrasions than thicker more padded areas. the scraped skin of an abrasion can contain particles of dirt.
A fracture is a break in a bone and can range from a hairline crack in the bone to the bone being broken into 2 or more pieces that no longer line up correctly. A fracture may occur at the same time as other injuries such as sprains, strains or dislocations.
Sprains, strains and dislocations
Sprains involve the ligaments, otherwise know as the fibrous tissues that connect 2 bones together.
A strain is the stretching or tearing of the tendons, otherwise know as the fibrous tissues that connect your muscles to your bones.
Dislocations can only occur at joints and are injuries that cause the ends of your bones out of position within a joint. Common dislocations include ankles, knees, shoulders, hips, elbows, fingers and even your jaw.
Pinching injuries are when a body part (finger, foot, etc.) gets jammed under or between objects. An example is when a door closes on you hand or figure pinching it.
Crush injuries occur when the body or a body part is trapped under or between objects. One of the common crushing injuries is when a large hatch drops down on a person or a body part crushing them or their body part.
Tropical infections thrive in the hot and humid conditions of the tropics and sub-tropics and can develop from fish or prawn puncture wounds, the rubbing of gum boots on bare skin and many other reasons.
It’s important for your health that any time you see a potential for tropical infection such as boils, a rash or a puncture wound that you get the proper First Aid to prevent it from occurring.
A small puncture wound like in the photo below can rapidly become a major tropical infection like the picture on the right if left untreated.
Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 37°C. hypothermia occurs as your body temperature falls below 35°C.
When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs can’t work normally. Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and eventually death.
Can you get hypothermia in the tropics or sub-tropics?
The answer is YES!
Hypothermia is often caused by exposure to cold weather or immersion in cold water.
We always recommend that at least 2 crew members have current First Aid training to enable safe and efficient response to injuries.
The minimum requirement is Provide First Aid plus Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation
For those who operate in remote areas we strongly recommend taking the Provide First Aid in remote situations course.
Any time an injury occurs it’s important that it’s recorded in the vessels Log Book. In the event of a legal case being launched a failure to record the injury makes it hard to defend in court.
Take a few minutes to record the incident including the victims name, what happened, the time and location onboard in your Log Book!