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Sick on a ferry: what to do

When you decide to go on vacation, we tend to sort out just the problems that might arise once on the ferry. However, one of the things that you should ask yourself before starting, is what to do in case of illnesses on board. Browsing the open sea, it is very difficult to reach the mainland as soon as possible and, therefore, the first aid is to be provided on the ship. What happens in these cases? Is there is a doctor on board?

The doctor is essential both in the case of long journeys or shorter routes, because he/she is able to cope with health emergencies of each type. Precisely thanks to its preparation, the ship’s doctor is able to give not only the first aid to the staff’s member in distress, but to give all the necessary care. His professional role is guaranteed by the Regulation on maritime health that, in fact, ensure to those who travel on ships that a first aid station is present for the management of all eventual medical emergencies. To date, thanks to the adoption of the Ministerial Decree 13 June 1986, the figure of the ship’s doctor is required, both for ferries and for cruise ships as well as for all of the Italian merchant marine ships sailing in the Mediterranean. In particular, as regards the ferries, it is mandatory to have a ship’s doctor if you can carry 500 passengers or more and if the sailing time is equal to or greater than 6 hours of navigation.

medical-563427_640 Photo public domain

Therefore, for all those who decide to use the ferry to go on vacation, it is good to know that in case of illness on board there is a service. From a simple wound or headache, to more important problems, as well as real emergencies, the primary care physician – whose presence is always compulsory for all shipping company – is ready to provide all necessary medical care. The ship’s doctor is a real lifesaver when you are away from the mainland!

How to become ship’s doctor?

To obtain the title of professional doctor on board you must pass an exam that the Ministry of Health helds every five years and you must not have exceeded 45 years of age. Already these two factors constitute a very strict selection, which ensure the presence on board exclusively of highly competent and professional doctors, chosen through public competition among the best.

Also, be aware that the list of doctors authorized to serve on board is periodically reviewed and this is a second important element that assures and reassures the professionalism of the doctors on board.
The shipping company with ferries carrying more than 499 people has the right to have at its disposal the professional doctor, and the staff can get a visit at any time for any problem, even for a simple seasickness.

It goes without saying that, since it is ensured the presence of the physician on board, there is also an area to be used as the medical facility. In many cases it is a sort of infirmary, where are the needed medicines to deal with emergencies and to treat the most common complaints, as well as the vital equipment  to provide first aid. In some cases, you can find on board even very sophisticated equipment such as, for example, X-ray machines and those necessary to make more specific laboratory tests. In addition to the ship’s doctor, it could be also a nurse on board, which should support and help the doctor if necessary.

Before leaving we should always take care of this aspect. Ask the company you have chosen or you are about to choose all the information about the health services offered by the ferry. It is a critical knowledge, especially if you suffer from some disease. In the latter case, however, it is advisable to consult your doctor before leaving, in order to take all the required precautions and measures.
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