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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa
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Thu, 7 February 2019

South African co-founder of Surfing Doctors Dr Phil Chapman has been collaborating with a start-up Australian company to produce a custom line of first aid kits for travelling surfers.


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DR PHIL? Dr Chapman has moved from SA to do good things in the medical world. Photo Supplied


The Aussie company Better Surf Marketplace (BSM) is marketing its first aid kits for travellers from the experience gained by surfing doctors who have been off the beaten track, and in hard-core hospital emergency wards. BSM Founder Dr Jon Cohen and Senior Medical Advisor Dr Chapman have worked in places like Grajagan and Tavarua as part of Surfing Doctors, and realised that most surfers are dangerously under-equipped when travelling in remote places.

'Some injuries need to be dealt with immediately to get the best outcome'“Many surfers head to fairly remote destinations with little or no medical supplies,” said Dr Cohen. “It’s pretty common to injure yourself in Indonesia, where the waves are powerful, and break over shallow coral. To surf at a remote surf spot like Grajagan, off the jungles of Java, or in the Mentawais, 100km off Sumatra, and not have a good medical First Aid Kit on hand places you at serious risk.

"It can take ages to organise a medical evacuation even with insurance. Some injuries need to be dealt with immediately to get the best outcome whether something common like a fin chop, or a nasty run-in with the reef causing a fracture or dislocation, or something rare like a shark bite, the delay in basic first aid before transfer to a decent hospital can have big downstream impact on the outcome. On a more basic, non-life threatening level, being able to sort out your own basic injuries means you're back in the water faster, wasting less of your precious days in paradise."

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STING IN THE TAIL: Behind the picture of paradise lie a host of dangers that can skunk your life.


Dr Cohen and his team have developed a number of versions of the kit after more than a year in development. The initial Calm As surfing first aid kits were launched earlier last month. The first launch was the surfing overland Bali bag as a joint venture with Surfers Of Bali.

'Sometimes if people are not qualified or dialed-in, they tend to panic in heavy situations, when they really need to relax and remain calm'The surfer kits will contain medical supplies and tools to help surfers deal with shark and snake bites, sprains and dislocations, urchins and splinters, reef rash, allergies, fin chops, sun stroke, diarrhea and vomiting and fever, as well as sea ulcers. It comes with an eBook explaining how to sort out the most common injuries on a tropical surf trip, and will retail for AU$50. BSM will roll out different versions of the initial Bali kit. There is the Deep Sh*t mod that you can add straight into the Surfers of Bali model. A Big Wave Kit fits on the rescue ski and includes gear for resuscitation in heavy situations, spinal injuries and pelvic fractures. The Surfing Doctors Special Kit fits in your board coffin without scratching up your boards. The 4WD kit covers the basics when you're camping with the family for a week.

“Relax, assess, react is the key phrase that I have used in emergency medical situations, and it can be used in surfing as well,” said Dr Chapman. “The reason behind the name ‘Calm As’ for the first aid kits is to possibly have a calming effect on whoever is using it. Sometimes if people are not qualified or dialed-in, they tend to panic in heavy situations, when they really need to relax and remain calm.”

For more information and further products available go to https://bettersurf.com.au

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