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Aviation Life Raft Review
Medical Supplies

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Medical Supplies

All but the EAM Part 135 kit include an assortment of first aid supplies including bandages, analgesics and the like. EAM's lack of first aid supplies is a definite shortcoming and would appear to also not meet the recommendations included in AC 120-47 - SURVIVAL EQUIPMENT FOR USE IN OVERWATER OPERATIONS. While many of the first aid supplies included are often of questionable value, they are better than nothing. All the kits here have serious failings in content selection, quality and packaging. The selection of items in the first aid kits could be improved significantly. This is an area ripe for improvement. For more information on survival medical equipment and supplies, see Medical Group- Medical kits.

The RFD Navigator includes no medical supplies with the exception of sea sickness tablets. Unfortunately, there is also no water whatsoever with which to take the tablets. They might as well not include the tablets if they don't include at least some water. All the rest of the basic rafts include no first aid supplies.

Going forward, Revere told us that the RFD "R" series raft will be equipped with Revere's USCG approved first aid kit. This is a moderately well equipped 13 unit kit in a heavy duty plastic waterproof zipper lock container.

Air Cruisers, BFGoodrich, Survival Products, Hoover and Winslow all assemble their own first aid "kits." Survival Products, Hoover and Winslow use unitized boxes of supplies while Air Cruisers and BFGoodrich use individual items (see Appendix 2 for specific items in each kit). The individually packaged items probably save a little on packing volume. By and large the kits are similar, containing an assortment of compress bandages, triangle bandage(s), adhesive bandages, and various medications.

Winslow and BFGoodrich also includes a decent mini-manual, though they are not waterproof. While quality is all over the board, some items stand out from the various kits. Winslow includes nitrile gloves, recognizing that allergies to latex has become such a widespread problem, plus the nitrile are much stronger. Winslow's and Hoover's dressings were individually vacuum packed in heavy plastic and the triangular bandage was sterile, an uncommon, but welcome, feature. BFGoodrich includes packets of antibiotic salve and Air Cruisers includes povidone iodine swabs.

While the kits are either vacuum packed or in zipper lock plastic bags originally, except as noted above, unless dressings are individually well packed, they are likely going to get wet once the kit is opened unless care is taken. We much prefer individual waterproof packaging for first aid items. None of the adhesive bandages in these kits will actually stick in damp conditions. Things like ammonia inhalants, included by Air Cruisers and RFD, are generally no longer considered appropriate for first aid use. "First aid cream" or burn treatments, as included in all but the Air Cruiser and BFGoodrich kits, are no longer considered appropriate treatment, antibiotic salve and povidone iodine are the choices today.

Winslow and RFD include 6 sea sickness tablets per rated occupant. These won't help after the fact, but could well help if taken immediately upon entry and if conditions are relatively calm.

Note TIP:

The odds are high that most survivors will get sea sick in a life raft, almost guaranteed if it is closed up and the weather is rough. Sea sickness tablets are generally effective only if taken 30 minutes before motion sickness has developed. They will do no good afterwards. Unfortunately, survivors can be overcome with motion sickness fairly quickly, so taking the drug after they get in the raft may be of little use. It would be a good strategy to keep sea sickness tablets in the aircraft. Not all ditchings are immediate emergencies, there is often quite some time between recognition that there may be a ditching and the actual ditching. Taking the anti-emetic before hand could be a big help. While they generally cause some minor degree of drowsiness, with adrenaline levels rising, that shouldn't be a problem.

Winslow also includes waterproof sunscreen, SPF 30, one 2 ounce plastic bottle per 3 rated occupants. We think that this is an excellent addition. Sunburn can be extremely dangerous for life raft occupants. None of the companies offer protection for the lips, a very sensitive area. With water at a premium, the lips can suffer seriously, trying to keep them moist can waste water and can create significant mental irritation or torment if they become sunburned. A small tube of zinc oxide or lip balm would suffice to remedy this omission. Zinc oxide is virtually 100% sun and water proof and can be especially useful for particularly sensitive areas like the nose and lips. Blistex "Ultra Protection" SPF-30 sunblock lip balm is another excellent product. This is more comfortable to wear than zinc oxide and seems to work well for most people, though it isn't as effective.

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