Medical Care of Kids Onboard – Spotting the Sick Child

Big Sick or Little Sick?

Whilst working as yacht crew either on charter or private yachts, you can encounter children onboard at any time during the season, accompanied by parents with expectations on the crew to care for their little ones with the same high level of preparation and training as they would for the adults onboard.

Have you asked yourself and your crew whether they feel prepared to pick up on the signs and symptoms in a sick child, respond to a child who has been in an accident, or how best to support and manage understandably distressed parents and other panicking guests in this situation? These are all questions anyone working in the industry needs to ask themselves as it is a matter of concern for everyone onboard.

Learning to respond to paediatric medical issues onboard also has benefits that extend to your life on land. The skills learned in this type of training could assist you in saving the life of your own child or someone else’s.

We recommend you and your crew consider attending MedAire’s Paediatric Workshop at the Monaco Boat Show to get a preview of how this vital training will assist you in being prepared for the worst scenario.

Below is an introductory blog from MedAire’s trainer Jo Peare, who will run the workshop, and who has had real life experience with paediatric care onboard, having lived onboard a vessel with an under one year old child of her own.

The biggest question we face when deciding on what action to take with a sick child, is ‘what should I do? How do I make him feel better, and does he need medical help or is this something that will get better on its own?

Children’s nurses will tell you that often, tragically, children arrive into the Emergency Department too late.

Why is this?

We all know that children are different than adults, but did you know that children’s bodies respond differently to illness and injuries than adults bodies do?

Children can appear reasonably well – they can even be playing normally, or sitting quietly, and we don’t notice anything untoward – suddenly we look at the child and notice things are not right, and we have a sick child who is deteriorating very quickly, in front of our eyes. The decline in a child’s medical condition can happen very fast – much faster than in adults.

More commonly, a child seems unwell…..and the adult goes to Dr. Google to try to diagnose the condition. With children, we often don’t have time to consult Dr. Google – and anyway, diagnosis is not our job – getting medical advice in a timely manner is our job.

So, do we monitor the child wait and see what happens? Or do we panic, drop everything and run to the nearest A&E?

Unfortunately, option B may not be available to us when we have little ones onboard. We need to know when to seek medical help, know how to assess the child, and relay the right information to the medical professionals.

This is where ‘Big Sick’, or ‘Little Sick comes in.

Simply put, ‘Big Sick is when the child’s oxygen levels are low or their blood circulation is poor. This is an indication that the child is seriously ill, at risk of death and needs immediate evacuation and lifesaving intervention.

‘Little Sick is when the child shows no signs that there is imminent risk to the childs survival, and we can seek medical advice and monitor the child’s condition while making further plans to get to the nearest AND most suitable medical facility.

As yacht crew, it is not up to you to diagnose the child – leave that up to professional medical support-, but it is vitally important that you can recognize symptoms of ill health in a child, and the difference between ‘Big Sick and ‘Little Sick’.

Be informed, feel confident. Come to our workshop on Medical Care of Kids Onboard during the Monaco Boat Show in the ACREW lounge at La Rascasse. Learn more and register:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/workshop-maritime-paediatrics-when-a-child-falls-iii-tickets-27458669620