If your boat takes a wave or spends a long time in high humidity, you don't want your medical supplies ruined. Expedition Medical Chests are sealed polycarbonate cases generously packed with ER-grade supplies... with a module for wounds & burns, a mini version and more to come. This is a new product line from Nomadic Research Labs, which has been exploring applied technomadics since 1983.
The Wounds & Burns Kit contains the following:
- Ten non-latex gloves - gloves are second only to washing your hands as a huge step in preventing wound infection, as well as protecting the person who is doing the care. We chose vinyl since many people are allergic to latex (including some who are not aware of it).
- Two 8” X 10” high absorbency ‘Abdominal’ pads - these dressings are extremely absorbent and generous enough to cover a large wound. They can also be doubled over to increase their absorbency for a smaller wound. You can use them to initially stop the bleeding, for dressings after the wound has been closed, and as a pressure bandage. They are sterile, individually wrapped, and very versatile.
- 25 4” X 4” gauze sponges - when someone is really bleeding, pressure is the first thing to think of to stop it. Gauze 4x4’s are great to just grab and hold on the fresh wound. They are absorbent, and easy to maneuver. They can also be used as dressings, although they do tend to stick to the site. We chose not to make these sterile to cut down on individually packaged waste. Since they are included with the intended purpose of stopping bleeding, that’s not a problem; aseptic technique will happen later.
- 10 stretch fabric knuckle/fingertip bandaids - first, I love the stretch fabric approach to bandaids as opposed to the plastic ones. They feel better, stay on longer, and their adhesive is more water resistant... a much needed quality at sea. The other quality these bandaids have is their special contours for maneuverability in tight places (like fingers and knuckles).
- 20 stretch fabric 1” X 3” bandaids - again, love the stretch fabric. These are the staples we need to have in stock for all those miscellaneous cuts and abrasions.
- One roll Micropore paper tape - this is my favorite tape for applying and changing dressings (and I’ve tried them all). It is easy to manipulate in tight spots, the adhesive lasts a long time, and it seems to cause the least irritation.
- Two 100mL bottles of sterile water - sterile water or saline is a very good thing to have on hand for flushing a fresh wound. Boiled sea water works well also... but this is quicker.
- One 12mL syringe - when you are flushing a wound with the sterile solution, a syringe helps to get some pressure going. This can be very helpful with displacing debris and microbes.
- Ten packets of triple antibiotic ointment - a good broad-spectrum topical antibiotic ointment can mean the difference between quick healing and a painful infection. Indispensable stuff.
- One pack of 10 3M Steri-strips - To close a gash, these are my tool of choice. I have patched up thousands of wounds (including some really big, ugly ones) with these amazing little strips. One of the things I like to do is to cut them in half before applying them, so they go twice as far. This is useful since they are expensive and are used up quickly with one big procedure.
- 5 Povidone Betadine swabs - iodine (betadine) is really an amazing substance. It will nearly sterilize skin around a wound and is used in surgical prep as well as complicated dressing change protocols. Use it liberally on the skin surrounding the wound but really endeavor not to get it into the wound itself as it can damage open tissue.
- 20 Alcohol wipes - alcohol will also nearly sterilize skin as well as instruments (such as forceps) before use. It will also de-fat an area of skin, which will make tape and/or Steri-strips stick better.
- 5 Telfa 3”x5” non-adherent pads - these dressings will help prevent ripping off a newly formed scab (your body’s natural protective layer). But if you do have a problem with a sticking bandage, soak it in sterile water or saline and let it sit for five minutes. Peel it off slowly and carefully, and your scab will remain intact. Then you can clean, medicate and reapply the dressing.
- Two rolls of Kerlix gauze wrap - I really like this stuff for keeping a dressing in place in a spot like an elbow or wrist where there is a lot of motion or friction, but where you don’t need moisture protection. It offers a bit of extra padding as well.
- Two sterile eye pads - if you have an eye injury it is extremely important to protect it...these pads are contoured for this area.
- One roll of 3M Coban wrap - this is the wrap to use when you need to secure a dressing, further protect the area, and/or give some support to a joint. It has a little bit of stretch, gives some moisture protection and (the best thing) sticks only to itself so you don’t need those pesky anchors you need with traditional Ace bandages. I don’t know about you, but I always lose those! Coban is wonderful.
- Three packets of burn gel - optimized for burns, this provides pain relief and quicker healing.
- One Instant Ice Pack - not just for burns or bruising... if you have inflammation along with your wound (which often happens) ice is very helpful for the pain and swelling.
- One disposable razor - before you tape a dressing on an area, if you remove the hair it is much easier to achieve cleanliness as well as much less painful dressing changes. Pulling tape off of a hairy area does not contribute to comfort!
- Self-published instruction manual and starter medical log - To tie all this together, I've written a set of procedures for dealing with typical lacerations, presented in a logical sequence that matches the grouping of supplies within the chest.
Our first kit is the Wounds & Burns module in a gasketed Lexan case, pricing is set at $109. Why? That's almost exactly the retail price of box and contents... but from us you also get the selection, organization, a book keyed to the supplies, and so on... without the hassles of researching supplies, individually tracking down sources, and paying shipping/tax from multiple vendors. We also offer a scaled-down version for smaller boats (even kayaks) and day sailing... still packed with professional goodies in a gasketed Lexan box, but at half the price ($54). And there is an even smaller version we call the "patch kit" for $27.
Please visit our online store to order any of these with PayPal.
(If you'd rather use a credit card, that's OK too - please contact Steve via email and provide a good time to call for the details.)
This site also includes a marine medical blog by Kirsten, and she will be posting a series of articles about bloody adventures at sea and techniques for dealing with emergencies aboard (and in other settings removed from easy access to professional medical care). We are also offering a series of classes in wound care for cruisers... keep checking back for updates on upcoming schedules.
Steve Roberts & Kirsten Hansen, LPN
Nomadic Research Labs