If your passport is dilapidated, then you know the struggle. Shit doesn’t always go according to plan on a surf trip. You can sacrifice all you’ve got in exchange for two glorious weeks of tropics and tubes, then end up contracting some sort of jungle fever on your first day. Or you’ll get burned to a crisp. Or you’ll look as if you’ve been mauled by a tiger when in reality, you were merely massaged by coral fingers. One unfortunately timed set wave is all takes to turn a dream into a nightmare. But we want to change that.
We want you to maximize your time in the water on your next surf trip, registered ER nurse Matthew Craig — a man who has traveled extensively in search of Third World nirvana. Here’s his advice. —Jake Tellkamp
–I bring a few basic things on every surf trip: duct tape, butterfly bandages, a surgical stapler, antibiotics prescriptions and resin.
–New-Skin and superglue are no good. Neither of them are waterproof and they can trap the infection inside. That’s why staples are so effective because they let the wound breathe so your body can push out the bacteria. If you get hurt and want to continue surfing on a trip, try for staples. But if that’s not an option, you can duct tape over a bandage to get you through a few sessions as long as your cleaning it out after.
–Lime versus Iodine: Both are pretty good. I’ll go with lime for initial cleaning then use a q-tip and iodine for further sterilization. Always use fresh q-tips.
–If you’re surfing with an open cut in sketchy water, make sure you’re irrigating the wound as much as possible after your sessions. Bottle water works perfectly fine. I’ll puncture a hole in the cap so I can get pressure to flush the wound out of sand, dirt, reef or anything else that might be lingering in there. Irrigating the wound is the best preventive measure for infections.
–Tourniquets can save lives. Especially if someone has an arterial involvement, which are easy to identify because the person will be squirting blood with each heartbeat. You want to go above and below the wound a few inches (because the arteries retract) and apply as much pressure possible until you can get immediate medical intervention. Elevate the wound above the heart and continue to apply pressure. Tying a leash around the wound is protocol in most scenarios with sharks bites.
–If you have cuts on your feet, think about what Lieutenant Dan said. Keep your feet dry and covered up, fresh socks man! During the day or partying or whatever, you’re going to want to keep them covered but at night, you want them exposed to air. Let the wounds breathe and dry up. Wounds that stay damp from wet socks or leaving a bandaid on all night will ulcer and take much longer to close.
–The malaria ring pertains to where infected mosquitos go and don’t go. If I’m going to somewhere in the malaria ring — such as Indonesia – I’ll eat a bunch of garlic before and during my stay. Not because it’s delicious, but because it’s off-putting to mosquitos (and unfortunately for girls too). If you’re going to be roughing it, wrap your boards in a mosquito netting so you have one while you’re there.
–If you’re going to a place where you can’t easily buy bottled water, bringing a filter is a good call. There’s nothing worst then having a diarrhea attack abroad, plus you can leave it with a less fortunate community who needs it more than you.
–I don’t travel with health insurance but I should. The yearly Medevac insurance can be the best two hundred dollars you ever spend. They’ll get you home from anywhere in less than 24 hours so you can get yourself to some western medicine. You could potentially save yourself thousands of dollars if you get yourself in serious trouble and they have the evacuate you home.