It can be especially disconcerting to suffer illness abroad as medical treatment generally has to be paid for. As well as taking appropriate travel insurance cover, there are some further precautions that you as a group organiser or an individual athlete should consider:
Visit your Doctor
We recommend you visit your doctor as soon as possible before you travel. Check what vaccinations you need; check to see if you need extra health precautions; check if your medication is legal in the country you are visiting – pack it in your hand luggage; if you are taking prescribed medication, take a copy of the prescription with you, and find out if you will need to take a doctor’s letter with you.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance but entitles the holder rights to healthcare that may become necessary during a temporary visit to EEA (European Economic Area) countries or Switzerland. You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Remember – each person in your group requires a card. Apply online at www.ehic.org or forms are available from UK Post Offices. If you already have an EHIC please check that it will still be in date for the duration of your travel, as the card has to be renewed every 5 years.
Parental Permission for Medical Treatment
You should obtain the written permission of parents/guardians prior to travel for group leaders to carry out the following: Administer prescription medication required by students if applicable, Administer pain relief medication as appropriate (eg. Paracetamol), Authorise medical treatment in the event that this is deemed necessary by the medical authorities present.
Group Members’ Medication
Record any particular medical details or medication requirements for members of the group. Let other staff know where these details are held. It is essential to bring sufficient supplies of medication to last for the duration of the camp (allowing also for any unforeseen delays) – additional supplies may not be readily available locally.
First Aid Kits
Many LEAs and school/sports governing bodies stipulate that a first aid kit be carried on all trips. This policy may specify the contents of such a kit. Keep in mind that you are providing for a group and not just a few people and take into account the activities which swimmers will be participating in. Headache and stomach ache remedies such as Paracetamol are worthwhile but must not form part of the first aid kit and should be administered and controlled by one senior member only.
First Aid Qualification
We recommend that at least one member of the support group should have completed a first aid course. Your LEA or governing body may insist on this or other similar qualifications. If you are leading a very large group, you may wish to consider taking a qualified first aider specially to handle medical matters.