Boaters may not realize it, but when they leave the shore and head out into open water, they are venturing out into a wilderness situation where help can be miles away and where self-reliance is key. There are many basic things boaters can do to be safer, among them requiring all passengers on board to wear safety vests and also ensuring that the boat has all required safety equipment in accordance with current Coast Guard regulations. One additional thing that boaters can do to be safe and keep those around them safe is to learn CPR and first aid skills.
CPR, or Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, is a form of first-aid that is administered to a victim whose heart has stopped. While a great majority of heart attack victims die before they reach the hospital (92%), The American Heart Association suggests that many more of these victims could have survived if people around them had known CPR techniques. For heart attack victims, CPR allows blood to keep flowing to the brain, ensuring that the brain stays alive, even after the heart has stopped. If a person can be kept alive long enough for doctors to discover what is blocking or stopping the heart, the person has a far greater chance of survival. If a heart attack victim receives CPR, his or her chances of survival increase by twofold or even threefold amounts. Medical advances in heart care make it possible for medical practitioners to keep victims alive in the hospital long enough to discover the heart problem, and, if possible, fix it. Unfortunately, many heart attack victims arrive at the hospital dead because those around them were not able to administer immediate first aid.
When individuals go out on boats, CPR training is even more critical because help can be miles and sometimes hours away. The American Heart Association reports that as many as 70% of Americans don’t know how to react in a cardiac emergency. Unfortunately, many of these emergencies take place at home or at places where immediate medical care is unavailable.
But as any boating accident lawyer at our firm can tell you, when individuals go out to sea, heart attacks are not the only risk. Individuals can fall overboard, accidents can happen due to slips and falls, and individuals may suffer from either heat stroke or hypothermia. Knowing how to properly resuscitate a victim who has inhaled water can mean the difference between life and death.
Furthermore, if individuals plan to be fishing while out on the open water, cuts are possible. A deep enough cut at a critical artery can lead to major losses of blood. Knowing how to properly stop bleeding and help a victim who has gone into shock can also save lives.
Shock is a potentially deadly condition that results from insufficient blood flow. It is important to differentiate medical shock from emotional shock. Emotional shock is not a life-threatening condition, while medical shock is. A person in shock should be kept warm, have the feet elevated, and, if breathing or the heart has stopped, be administered life-saving CPR. A person in shock should not be given food or water or moved unless necessary.
CPR training will vary depending on where you receive it. At some venues, CPR training only teaches individuals how to perform CPR and help a choking victim. Boaters may want to take a more comprehensive CPR course that includes emergency first aid. Ideally, boaters should consider taking a wilderness first aid course which will cover a range of emergency situations that can arise. Wilderness first aid teaches individuals how to be self-sufficient in remote situations—something every boater should know.