The course is facilitated by Dr Dave Austin who flies in from Rockhampton where he is the director of an emergency department at the base hospital.
Dr Dave, a Kiwi through and through, is an experienced offshore sailor and is sought after as an onboard doctor for top racing yachts. In 2015, Dr Dave was engaged by Yachting New Zealand to review the medical kits for the Safety Regulations of Sailing and in 2016 ran the inaugural offshore medics course at RAYC prior to the Auckland to Fiji race. The course was so well received that RAYC decided to run another one this year & intends continuing it as an annual event.
The course is tailored to sailors by an experienced offshore sailor and emergency physician. Guest presenters include Bex Costello (Hielkema), who is an emergency nurse and experienced offshore sailor, and Yachting New Zealand yacht inspector Angus Willison.
It has a large practical component, with the participants practicing skin stapling, stitching, moving patients, CPR, looking at an AED and how to use it, giving intramuscular injections, relocation of dislocated joints and managing bone breaks.
It is a requirement for all vessels going offshore to have two advanced first aid-trained people on board and the RAYC offshore medics course more than meets this requirement. The fundamental difference between a regular first aid course and the offshore course is that the regular first aid course assumes help within one hour, whereas offshore you must be prepared to keep someone alive and relatively comfortable for a number of days.
By Angus Willison, Yachting New Zealand