Availability of controlled drugs in hard-to-reach emergency situations

I was flipping past “The Perfect Storm” on TV. The scene showed Geo. Clooney treating an seriously injured shipmate. Part of the procedure involved shooting him up with some painkiller or antibiotic.

I’ve often wondered if real emergency medical kits – the kind you might find on a fishing boat, or airplane, or oil rig, or military transport, or logging camp, etc. – contain controlled drugs like morphine and antibiotics. If so, does the “captain” or someone else have to get some sort of junior medical license to keep an eye on it and administer the stuff properly?

A search for nautical first aid kits on google yielded plenty of cites that describe kits that include both morphine and perscription antibiotics. Several did mention that 'scripts were required, so I assume there are some legal channels that one must go though to outfit such a kit. Not being a sailor-type, I don’t know what those channels might be.

Some laws deliberately create “loopholes” for these circumstances. I remember seeing one written into the UK Controlled Substances Act, not sure about US Federal law…

There are links to a great number of controlled substances legalese here, but be advised, they may be out of date. Also, erowid.org tends to be pro-drug use, so also beware that the links aren’t always to reliable sources (gov. pages tend to be ok though).

A friend of mine used to be a professional scuba diver (before his chronic back pain stopped that particular career) and he said that the first-aid kits the teams carried with them on all jobs included morphine solution and other controlled meds.

But by union regulations, one member of the team had to be a certified paramedic, so that might be why they were allowed to have those items. I can’t imagine a Schedule II substance like morphine being allowed for use without someone with some type of medical training required in attendence.

He said that some team paramedics refused to carry Percocets in their kits because they “disappeared” quite frequently.

I work on a merchant vessel. We have a sick-bay stocked with medical supplies. The narcotics such as morphine are locked in the captains office. The vessel employs a service called Medical Advisory Systems. When someone is sick the captain of first mate will fax of call the service. The doctors there will issue instuctions on how to care for the patient and what drugs to administer.

In theory both the captain and 1st mate have medical training, although it is not as extensive as a paramedic’s.