First Aid for Onboard Medical Emergencies

A listing of selected on-line medical resources
for boaters, cruisers, and crew.

  • PowerPoint presentations
    • First Aid for Onboard Medical Emergencies
      Available in both PowerPoint and PDF formats. By William Quick, MD.

    • Extended Coastal Cruising: Medical Preparation and Care
      A PDF presentation. By Jerry Reves, MD, and Larry Raney, MD of MUSC.

    • Basic Boating First Aid
      An on-line PowerPoint presentation, by Joshua Hawley, EMT. Easy to read on-line, and can be downloaded as a PowerPoint presentation. At Docstoc

    • First Aid: Personalizing your approach to medical emergencies and more minor medical problems
      Another on-line PowerPoint presentation, by Kathie King MD, FHYC Fleet Surgeon. Easy to read on-line, and can be downloaded as a PowerPoint presentation. At Docstoc
  • Other on-line information
    • Cruising Health
      A website by Jerry Reves, MD. Includes sections on diet, exercise, medicine chest, and preventive care.

    • The Ship Captain's Medical Guide
      From the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency. "The Ship Captainís Medical Guide is intended primarily for use on ships where no doctor is carried and it is necessary for laymen to assess and treat injuries and to diagnose and treat ill health. The Guide can also be recommended for use in other situations where professional medical advice is not readily available, for example on expeditions." Consists of 15 downloadable PDFs covering just about everything.

    • The Onboard Medical Guide: First Aid and Emergency Medicine Afloat
      A book by Paul G. Gill, Jr., MD. Published 1995; available at Hint to cheapskates like me: You can click on the "Look Inside!" area at the Amazon webpage, and find details for treating some emergencies, including (among others) near-drowning, hypothermia, and jellyfish stings.

    • Being Prepared For The Likely Medical Emergencies At Sea
      "A four-step talk to help sailors prepare for the most common medical problems when cruising." By Alayne Main

    • Common Medical Emergencies Aboard Sailing Race Boats
      By Carol Bareuther, RD; at All At Sea. "The best way to prevent medical emergencies while sailing is to have a good crew briefing prior to racing... Take time to be sure the crew is familiar with the deck layout and inform them of any hazards. For example, point out the worst obstacles like low booms... Many injuries happen because new crew havenít sufficiently practiced."

    • Top Two Onboard Medical Emergencies
      By Janine Ketterer and Kelly Sanford; at "The top two medical emergencies yacht crew are likely to encounter [are] heart attacks and drowning."
      • Treating Chest Pain at Sea
        By Paulo Magalh„es Alves, M.D.; at "Doctors typically will manage chest pain cases as heart attack until proven otherwise."
      • Responding to a Drowning Victim
        By Kelly Sanford; at "It's good practice occasionally to review the proper procedures for addressing the life-and-death scenario of attempting to rescue a person who has nearly drowned or appears to have died from drowning."

    • Your traveling medical record
      By William Quick, MD; at A listing of personal medical records that would be wise to have with you when traveling.

    • Travelers' Health
      From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Topics include (among others):
      Health information for travel to over 200 international destinations
      General information about vaccinations for travel
      Diseases related to travel, including malaria and yellow fever
      Illness & Injury Abroad
      Prepare for your trip
      Yellow Book 2012
      Travel health reference, includes updates to the online edition
      Find a Clinic
      Locate a travel health specialist or yellow fever vaccination clinic
      Stay Healthy & Safe
      Insect protection, safe food & water, survival guide.
      Resources & Training
      Training; journals & articles; domestic & international partners

    • Emergency Procedures
      From Special Notice to Mariners, 1st Coast Guard District, 2001; at USCG website. Medical information is on third page.

    • Locate, Access and Assess, Stabilize and Transport
      From the American Canoe Association; at their website.

    • Aspirin: Questions and Answers
      From the FDA; at their website.

  • Websites selling medical stuff (Listed alphabetically):

    • Adventure Medical Kits "First aid kits and survival tools for wilderness medicine, family outings, and travel."

    • Emergency Medical Products, Inc. "Serving first responders, fire and rescue, police, hospitals, colleges and universities, and more for 40 years, EMP is your premier source for emergency medical equipment and supplies."

    • "...for the Coastal Cruiser, Ocean Voyager and Commercial Fisherman serving the Commercial / Industrial, Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, and Military Communities."

  • Marine Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide
    Available at By Eric Weiss, MD and Michael Jacobs, MD. Second edition published 2012. The latest information on marine first aid. It includes chapters on hazardous marine life, submersion injury and dive medicine, rescue and evacuation of the sick and injured, wound cleaning and closing, and much more. (Note: Although the book has 333 pages, it is small in size: it measures approximately 6 x 4 x 1 inches.

  • Marine Accident Brief No. DCA-10-FM-003
    At the National Transportation Safety Board website. A PDF of a report of a collision between a passenger boat, Thriller 09, and a Coast Guard vessel, CG 25689, which occurred after dark on December 5, 2009 in Charleston harbor. There were six minor injuries to passengers on the Thriller 09.

  • Report your previous onboard medical problems!
    A survey from the Medical University of South Carolina is on-line. It's at Cruising Health Questionnaire (III), (The questionnaire is anonymous and confidential -- your personal information will not be identified or shared -- and should be filled in by the person with the illness or injury.)

Updated April 11, 2013

Webpage by William W. Quick, MD (member, Charleston Sail and Power Squadron). Please provide comments or suggestions for additional webpages to him at