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Will a Ship Have a Doctor?

On Behalf of Armbruster Dripps Blotevogel LLC |

If you go on a large cruise ship or some other such civilian vessel, it is probably going to have a doctor on staff. This person will ride along with the ship and provide aid to those who need it. You certainly do want to check with the cruise line before you get on the boat, but this is a fairly common practice.

But what about a commercial ship that you are on as an employee? Say that you work on a freighter or you are somehow involved in the transportation of cargo. If you have to spend time at sea, should you expect the company to provide a doctor for you?

The ship’s crew learns first aid

What generally happens is that the company will not assign a doctor to the boat, but will simply have the crew learn CPR and other types of first aid. The workers need a bit of training, and they are given various types of protective equipment, both to react to an injury and to prevent the event from happening in the first place.

But there probably will not be an official doctor, so this means that you may not necessarily get the care that you need. If you are relying on your coworkers and their own medical experience, you could certainly still suffer serious complications. At best, this could mean that the actual care that you need is delayed because all you can get is rudimentary first aid for the first few hours.

How far are you from shore?

A major question that comes up in a situation like this is just how remote the ship is at the time of the injury. In some cases, it could take hours or even days to get back to a port, let alone a hospital. This is what makes injuries on ships so incredibly dangerous, and it is why cruise ships bring doctors with them. There are sometimes chances to transfer an injured person out with a helicopter, but not always. As a maritime worker, this is a serious risk that you face every time you’re on the job.

If you do end up getting injured, or if you’ve lost a loved one, be sure you know exactly what legal steps to take.

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