By Scott “Fraz” Murie
What if the unthinkable happens when you are offshore and miles away from help: are you prepared? I’ve been in the sportfishing business for many years and I’ve always tried to learn from my mistakes when it comes to first aid.
I remember the first time we had someone on the boat bury a 12/0 stainless hook through his leg near his ankle. We had nothing to cut the hook out except a dull hack saw and a pair of vice grips. The only antiseptic on the boat was whisky, and boy we had plenty of that! The man that was hooked up was Capt. Bob Welniak of Destin, Florida and this guy is tough—after finally getting the hook out, we stayed offshore and finished the trip. With that said, it should never happen again. We have always had (or thought we have had) the necessary first aid for whatever may happen. Over the years we have had our share of accidents, sewing large gashes closed, applying tourniquets and treating infections because we had the necessary first aid tools to do it.
Once I took a group of people from Texas fishing on a 35-foot center console boat out of Destin. We were snapper and reef donkey fishing about 35 miles from the Destin Harbor when one of the guys says, “Man, I feel a little dizzy.” He had just caught a couple of fish so I told him to sit right next to me and get a bottle of water. I didn’t think any more about it until he said, “Scott, I’m having trouble breathing.” Then all at once he went unconscious, stopped breathing and his eyes remained open. My mind was racing. I instantly dumped an ice-cold bottle of water on his chest while trying to keep him from falling out of the helm chair. The small boat and light choppy waters were hindering me from laying him on the deck to perform CPR (for the very first time in my life). There were snappers, buckets and rods and reels on the deck. Everything became so cramped and was happening so fast that I remember praying ‘Dear Jesus, help us out here.’
I started doing chest compressions while a lady on the boat blew air into his mouth and we kept praying the whole time. After the fourth or fifth breath, life came back into this man. We were able to keep him stable while running to where a car was waiting to take him to the hospital. After many tests, he’s alright and God answered our prayers.
After all was said and done, I felt I should have been more prepared. I will be getting a new CPR certificate and taking a refresher course. The question in my mind is what if I would have needed a defibrillator? I know it sounds extreme but they are small and not that expensive. It could save a life and it may be your own. So a first aid kit is not just peroxide and band-aids, it’s a whole lot more. Make sure you are prepared for the unthinkable and ask yourself if you really know CPR? And don’t ever forget that there is power in prayer!
—That’s my two-minute warning. Fraz