Safety First: Take A Tour Of Sick Bay & Meet Dr. Jeffrey Cukor (Thursday, January 5th)

Life Ring

If it's Monday or Thursday, then it's time for our twice-weekly feature, Safety First.  If you miss a Safety First feature, just scroll back on the homepage and look for words Safety First in the title.

We stopped by Sick Bay to ask for some health and safety advice from Dr. Jeffrey Cukor.  He is the Medical Director and Academy Physician at Massachusetts Maritime Academy – both on land, and at sea. 

Sick Bay is the name given to a compartment on a ship that is used for medical purposes.  The establishment of a Sick Bay began during the Age Of Sail.  The British Royal Navy carried trained medical officers on board warships to treat anyone injured in battles or having other medical problems.  

Dr. Cukor and his Health Services team are responsible for emergency medical and trauma responses and treating routine minor illnesses.  They also offer mental health support. But that's not all! Health Services conducts galley inspections, offers educational training, treats allergic reactions, conducts water testing, and oversees gym sanitizing. They provide safety information briefings prior to each port and make sure that hand sanitizer and sunscreen readily available.  The team conducts random drug testing and create plans to tackle ship-wide emergencies. 

As you look at the photos below, the TS Kennedy's Sick Bay may remind you of your doctor's office and a hospital all rolled into one. 


exam chair and cabinets
Little Buc in exam chair
Don't worry!  Little Buc wasn't actually sick.  He just wanted some extra attention.

machines in sick bay
beds in sick bay

Sick Bay is equipped with two treatment areas.  There are ten in-patient racks for cadets who may need to rest or stay overnight for observation and two isolation racks for cadets who may need to be separated from others while they recuperate.  Sick Bay also has cardiac monitors, defibrillators, oxygen generators, and specialized eye care equipment.  There is resuscitation equipment, orthopedic equipment, oral and IV antibiotics, and topical ointments. 

There are four Medical Rates, all of which are Marine Transportation majors; 1/C Connor Ahern (Danvers, MA), 1/C Riley Hay (Clinton, MA), 1/C William Poulin (Byfield, MA), and Alex Byerly (Fulton, MD). The Medical Rates train with the medical staff to aid in their shipboard operations.

Dr. Cukor is passionate about keeping everyone safe and healthy. In the months leading up to Sea Term 2023, Dr. Cukor met with cadets and provided email updates so that they would be prepared for their seven weeks living aboard the TS Kennedy.

We asked Dr. Cukor to share some of the health and safety advice that he gave to the cadets. 

Infectious Illness Control:
1.  Report illness early so they can be contained.
2. Get a flu shot.
3.  Cough into your elbow - not your hands.
4.  Use hand sanitizer each time that you board the ship and before each meal.
5.  Wash hands really well after using the bathroom.
6.  Keep your hands away from your face.

Preventing Fungal Type Skin Infections, Skin Irritations, & Sunburns:
1.  Use sunscreen and wear a cover - we are not used to thinking about sunscreen this time of year.  Remember that prolonged sun exposure or burns increase our skin cancer risk.   
2. For skin irritation and fungal infections - don't start with any new products you have not used before. 
3.  Get out of wet or sweaty clothing or socks as soon as you are able. 
4.  Use drying powder in clothing and socks. 
5.  Wash your boiler suits and clothing regularly.

Preventing Trauma:
1.  Use safety equipment like goggles, gloves and hard hat when out on deck and especially when working.
2.  Don't try to catch doors and hatches if closing. 
3. Latch any open doors so they do not slam when the ship rolls.
4.  No rushing on ladderwells (stairways).
5.  Always keep a hand free to grab the railing if needed. 
6.  Clean out any wounds right away with soap and water, even if minor, to prevent infection.


Which of Dr. Cukor’s health and safety tips do you already practice at home and at school?  Is there one or more that you should incorporate into your routine?

Dr. Cukor

The cadets and the crew of the TS Kennedy are in great hands! 

Learn more about Dr. Cukor:

Dr. Cukor earned a BS from Tufts University and his MD from UMass Medical School where he subsequently trained as an Emergency Medicine Resident and Chief Resident. He served as the Emergency Medicine Education Director at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, before returning to UMass as a Flight Physician with UMASS LifeFlight, an Adult & Pediatric Emergency Department Attending, and ultimately the Emergency Medicine Residency Director for eleven years.  Dr. Cukor is a Medical Officer on a Federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team and has participated in humanitarian missions aboard both USNS Hospital Ships, Comfort and Mercy.  He is a volunteer physician with Project HOPE and an Adjunct Professor of Health Communication at Rhode Island College. Dr. Cukor has authored over twenty-five peer reviewed papers, book chapters or abstracts, serves as a peer reviewer for UpToDate, and has been invited to teach Emergency Medicine both nationally and internationally. Since 2011, he has proudly served as the Academy Physician supporting the cadets and campus.  He has participated in more than ten Sea Terms.

Dr. Cukor hopes that everyone aboard the TS Kennedy and our PreK-12 students back on land will heed his advice and stay healthy and safe.

Don't miss out next
Safety First feature on Monday, January 9th.