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Home > Health & Wellness > Medical Kits – Private vs Commercial Yachts

Medical Kits – Private vs Commercial Yachts

When it comes to thinking about organising a medical kit for a yacht, there are several considerations which can influence decisions and level of outfit. Primarily, the main influencing factor is whether the yacht is commercial or private. Secondarily and more importantly, it is the nature of the yachts program, travel itinerary, activities and ultimately the Captains duty of care that determines the final set up.

For a commercial yacht, the MCA sets the standard that is universally recognised by almost all flag states for commercial registration. This is detailed in the MCA MSN 1768 M-notice. There are 3 main Medical Kit options which are based on distance from shore cruising and number of crew.

A Class or Category A Kit is for a yacht cruising more than 150nm offshore or no limits

A Class or Category B Kit is for a yacht cruising up to 150nm offshore

A Class or Category C Kit is for a yacht cruising up to 60nm offshore

Quantity of medications and equipment are determined by number of crew. Up to 10, 10-20, 20-30 etc.

For a private yacht, the captain can choose any level of fit out he deems suitable and therefore a determination is made based on the yachts program. Many private yachts choose to follow a commercial standard of fit out.

A further way to determine appropriate fit out when related to the yacht program is ‘time away from professional medical care’. A yacht for example could be 50m offshore but many hours from professional medical care while cruising in remote areas. I personally recommend this is the more important influencing factor to consider. The medical kits are principally designed to provide initial primary response and stabilisation of an injured or ill person who then require professional medical care as soon as feasible. With yachts becoming larger than ever (in some cases in effect, mini-cruise ships) with plans to travel very remotely to the 4 corners of the earth, outfit above and beyond the minimum commercial requirements. The increasing trend of explorer/expedition vessel platforms is setting a gaming changing standard. Medical Training and access to 24/7 medical support and advice goes hand in hand with the medical kit set up and are equally important. These much larger vessels will go a step further and incorporate a sick bay/hospital outfit element to support large crew numbers.

It’s not necessarily how big the yacht is but its usage that is more important, so an 80m yacht that’s primary use is along the coast of France and Italy and never far from shore at any one time may not have as significant a set up as an 25m Oyster sailing yacht conducting a 3-year circumnavigation.

Another example are Racing/Cruiser yachts that have a serious race/regatta program. These yachts can and do experience regular trauma injuries and incidents. For these yachts, we at MSOS have designed a specific supplementary trauma response module and Race Team Medical Kits, gained from experience in supporting the J-class fleet and events such as the Volvo Ocean Race, Vendee Globe and Americas Cup Management. Even the more informal annual Arc race with hundreds of yachts participating are prone to more incidents then the average cruising yacht.

There are other items beyond just the medical kit often considered and beyond commercial statuary requirements such as; Defibrillators, Oxygen Kits to support scuba diving activities, Tender kits, Stretchers for helicopter evac and in-water rescue response, Paediatric kits if kids are onboard, and telemedicine monitoring systems that are often incorporated. If the yachts’ program entails long distance and remote cruising such as the Pacific or Indian Oceans, Asia, Antarctica and the Northwest passage, considerations such as tropical and very cold climates needs to be taken into account. So, in certain tropical regions, malaria medication and specific immunisations regimes need to be considered and in extreme Northern or Southern regions cold injuries and hypothermia preparedness is crucial.

MSOS have developed and designed both commercial MCA and private medical kit set ups for yachts. Examples of kits for a private yacht are the MSOS Near Ocean Medical Kit and the MSOS Distant Ocean Medical Kit as well as the specialised MSOS Race Team Kit.

The important element for the medical support for a yacht is that the medical kit is pragmatically designed and stocked, straight forward and easy to use and supported with regular crew first aid training and 24/7 telemedical support to medical professionals. A bespoke set up for a yacht is not unusual with no one yacht the same as another dependent on its use and program.



Nick Stael von Holstein, Medical Support Offshore