by Dr. Brien Barnewolt, Chief, Department of Emergency Medicine, Tufts Medical Center

Proper preparation is everything. On board Great American III Rich has an extensive first aid kit, and he knows how to use it. We added to the kit medications that Rich might need if he gets sick or injured: medications for infections, seasickness and his asthma. We can communicate by email or even satellite phone, so if something happens I know exactly what he has on board and can best advise him on his situation.

Rich also took an advanced first aid course, which is a great idea for everyone. He learned how to take care of wounds and burns, splint broken bones, and how to recognize and treat hypothermia. We also practiced many of these techniques, because you would not want to attempt them for the very first time in the middle of the Southern Ocean on a cold, wet, tossing boat.

Lastly, Rich is a big promoter of preventive medicine. He is in excellent physical condition, watches his nutrition, and has a great plan to get the proper amount of sleep during the race. When conditions are rough, he will wear protective clothing and pads, much like a BMX motocross rider. He even has a helmet! With prevention strategies like these, Rich should rarely need to make a trip to the “virtual” ER.