First off, this is not going to give you your M.D., so don’t attempt emergency surgery unless you really need to. We asked one of San Diego’s leading head/neck surgeons and ripper Dr. Brian Weeks for some pointers on sewing up your bro in case of emergency.
Step one: Examine the wound and determine the seriousness of the situation. If it looks manageable and not too critical, you can assume the role as nurse and start treatment by controlling the bleeding. Apply pressure to the wound, and try to stop the flow of blood.
Step two: Clean the wound with whatever you have available. The cleanest water possible will work. Your best bet is to use an iodine solution like Betadine. In the tropics, squeezing a lime into the cut will help stay infection. Rinse the cut well, and remove any foreign objects that may be inside the cut, like reef, fiberglass, rocks, etc. “I once had to pull about two inches of the nose of a surfboard out of a guy’s face,” says Dr. Weeks. “The nose of his board had lodged in his sinuses. It was pretty bad.”
Step three: Deeper wounds may need stitching. If your judgment says stitch, then start stitching. Align the wound and squeeze the edges of the wound together. With your needle and thread, begin to literally sew the wound shut. Push the needle into the skin about a quarter inch outside of the wound and about a quarter inch deep. Separate your stitches by about 1/8 of an inch to make sure the wound stays shut. Knot the end of your stitches with any kind of knot you know, just make sure it’s tight.
Step four: “Sorry if this ruins your trip,” says Dr. Weeks. “But you’ll need to keep the wound dry, so try not to surf for a while after you get stitched up.” After you finish your stitches, the most important thing is to ward off infection. Use Neosporin or any other antibiotic ointment you may have.
Step five: Infection is the most dangerous part of any wound, so please seek professional medical attention a.s.a.p.
TransWorld SURF and Dr. Brian Weeks accept no responsibility for botched stitch attempts. Don’t be stupid.
What To Bring In A Basic First Aid Kit
A good pair of scissors
Needle and thread
Anti inflammatory (e.g., Advil)