When a seafarer or fisher is sick or injured at sea, it is up to one of their fellow crew members known on merchant ships as the person responsible for medical care to provide medical relief until professional medical services can be reached. This person may be an engineer or skipper or another senior member of the crew who has had limited medical training on shore, as required under the STCW Convention, but who is not a fully-trained doctor. When confronted with a medical emergency far from land, the medical officer relies on two supports: Telemedical Assistance Services (TMAS) and the on board medical guide.
This new medical guide from ICS is written by an international group of maritime medical practitioners and experts who train seafarers and fishers and who understand what they need to know and when they need to know it. The Guide includes
- Comprehensive guidance on the most common injuries, illnesses and health issues experienced on board ships and fishing vessels;
- Assessment forms and charts to aid early assessment;
- User-friendly layout with coloured text boxes and features to highlight the most important guidance;
- Photo-realistic visual aids;
- Ten ‘Action Cards’ for the highest-risk illnesses and injuries, which are removable and can be separately kept in the medical kit bag for use in emergencies; and
- An up-to-date medicine chest with medicines that are currently and globally available.
Carriage of a medical guide on board is mandatory under the International Labour Organizations Maritime Labour Convention (ILO MLC) and the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) Seafarer Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention. The fishing industry requires proper medical care to be provided on board under the ILO Work in Fishing Convention, and medical training for those providing first aid care under the IMO STW-F 1995 Convention.
It is recommended that a copy of the guide is kept on board all ships and also in on-shore safety departments, medical assistance centres and training institutions who support seafarers and fishers.