International Medical Guide for Seafarers and Fishers

In stock

International Medical Guide for Seafarers and Fishers

£ 225

Recommended by:

  • Panama Maritime Authority
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands Registry
  • The Bahamas Maritime Authority

When a seafarer or fisher becomes sick or is injured at sea, it is up to one of their fellow crew members to provide medical relief until professional medical services can be reached. This person will have had limited medical training on shore, as required under the STCW Convention, but is not a fully-trained doctor. When confronted with a medical emergency far from land, the person responsible for medical care relies on telemedical assistance services (TMAS), the medicines and equipment available in the on board medicine chest, and the on board medical guide for support.

This modern and practical medical guide from ICS has been written and reviewed by an international group of maritime medical practitioners and experts with many years' experience of working with and training seafarers and fishers. It can be used on board all ships and fishing vessels, anywhere in the world, and in onshore safety departments, medical assistance centres and training institutions who support seafarers and fishers.

The International Medical Guide for Seafarers and Fishers is:

1. International and applicable globally 

  • Terminology and medical guidance is recognised and applicable globally
  • Medicines and equipment are available globally, right now
  • Reviewed and approved by international organisations representing shipowners, seafarer unions and maritime health professionals
  • Latest medical knowledge from maritime medical practitioners from every continent available in one guide

2. Comprehensive and up-to-date

  • Guidance on all injuries, illnesses and health issues experienced on ships and fishing vessels
  • Brand new chapters not available in existing international guides, including a chapter on assessing and treating mental health
  • Action cards address emergency situations and can be carried in the medical bag for quick access
  • Updated Ship’s Medicine Chest includes medicines and equipment that are easy to source anywhere in the world, right now

3. Practical and user-friendly

  • Easy-to-use format for a non-medical professional to navigate and apply in a medical situation
  • 3D visual aids, tables, charts and assessment forms to help crew follow procedures correctly and find the most important information quickly
  • Print and digital ebook formats available to give shipping companies flexibility and confidence that a guide will always be available in a way that suits crews and voyages
  • Comprehensive index includes symptoms to help readers find what they need quickly

Featuring a foreword from Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and written in collaboration with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and International Maritime Health Association (IMHA).

The £225 RRP includes:

  • The International Medical Guide for Seafarers and Fishers, 608pp, full colour, A4 half-Canadian;
  • 10 A5 laminated action cards, full colour; and
  • The Ship’s Medicine Chest to accompany the International Medical Guide for Seafarers and Fishers, 60pp, full colour, A4 paperback.

Read the full Introduction, Foreword and Contents List below.

Carriage of a medical guide on board is mandatory under the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention (ILO MLC) and the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (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. 

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Additional Information
Author International Chamber of Shipping
Publisher International Chamber of Shipping Publications
Edition First Edition
Publication month 2023 - March
ISBN 978-1-913997-13-7
Shipping Weight 2.500Kg


Introduction: How to use this book


Section 1: Illnesses and medical problems

1 ABCDE: assess a sick patient

2 CPR and defibrillators

3 Choking

4 Breathing problems

5 Shock (circulatory collapse)

6 Major bleeding (haemorrhage)

7 Chest pain

8 Anaphylaxis and allergy

9 Seizures (fits) and convulsions

10 Headache

11 Loss of consciousness

12 Stroke (cerebrovascular accident)

13 Diabetes

14 Sepsis and infectious diseases

15 Acute abdominal pain

16 Heat-related illnesses

17 Drowning

18 Hypothermia and cold injuries

19 Poisoning

20 Acute eye problems

21 Acute ear, nose and throat (ENT) problems

22 Acute dental problems

23 Back pain

24 Joint pain

25 Urinary tract and male genital problems

26 Sexually transmitted infections

27 Gynaecological problems

28 Menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage and childbirth

29 Common skin problems

30 Seasickness

31 Mental health issues

32 Alcohol, tobacco and drug misuse

Section 2: Injuries and trauma

33 ABCDE: assess an injured patient

34 Head, face and eye injuries

35 Neck and spinal injuries

36 Chest injuries

37 Abdominal injuries

38 Pelvic and hip injuries

39 Injuries to bones, joints, muscles and other soft tissues

40 Wounds and bleeding

41 Burns

42 Bites and stings

Section 3: Additional information

43 Assessing and managing pain

44 Practical procedures

45 Communicating with TMAS, and documentation

46 Moving a sick or injured patient

47 Medical assessment ashore

48 Medical evacuation

49 Continuing care

50 Care of others on board

51 Death on board

52 Officer responsible for medical care

53 Health risks on board

54 Anatomy and physiology

55 The International Health Regulations

Section 4: Assessment forms and charts

Fluid balance chart

Medical assessment form

Medication chart

Observation chart



The International Medical Guide for Seafarers and Fishers is a guide designed for non-medical professionals to help prepare them to handle medical emergencies when working at sea. This practical guide provides a useful complement to the International Medical Guide for Ships, produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Training and carriage requirements on medical guides are provided in relevant instruments of IMO and ILO, respectively. The importance of having access to medical care on board ships cannot be emphasised enough and medical guidelines are vital for ensuring proper knowledge and rapid response in medical emergencies. 

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) enjoy a close working relationship. ICS contributes significantly to IMO’s work through active participation at IMO meetings and publishing guidance in support of international regulations is evidence of that.

This guide has been produced in collaboration with maritime medical professionals from leading organisations to address an industry need in a practical manner by means of an up-to-date medical guide to help improve the standards of medical care on board.

As a former seafarer, I know first-hand how important it is that good medical care is available should any seafarers fall unwell on board a ship. In all situations that require medical attention, it is vital that the appropriate treatments, medicines and equipment are accessible, combined with the knowledge to handle any medical emergencies that may arise.

In this guide, advice is presented in a user-friendly way so that the information is straightforward and easy to understand for those with limited medical training. The Medicine Chest section of the guide includes the latest and internationally available medicines and recommended contents for a ship’s medical bag, and portable action cards have been included for crew to carry and use in a medical situation.

Seafarer welfare is of the utmost importance. Although it is always the hope that no one will require urgent medical care, we must ensure that seafarers are equipped with resources to aid them in tackling medical emergencies should they arise. 

Kitack Lim


International Maritime Organization


How to use this book

Dear seafarers and fishers of the merchant fleet, 

Welcome to the new International Medical Guide for Seafarers and Fishers. As the person responsible for medical care on board a ship or a fishing vessel, your role is to take care of your sick or injured colleague until professional medical services can be reached. This may be under difficult circumstances and far from land, but you are not alone: this guide is your on board companion and telemedical assistance services (TMAS) will be on hand to support you and recommend treatment that can be delivered on board. Carriage of a medical guide on board is mandatory under the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention (ILO MLC). The International Maritime Organization’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (IMO STCW) outlines the mandatory minimum standards of training for officers responsible for medical care and requires seafarers to be trained in the treatment of injuries or conditions in accordance with national and international medical guides. 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. 

Structure and contents

The medical guide is not written for doctors but as a tool for you as the person responsible for medical care on board. Great efforts have been made to present the many subject areas in an accurate and accessible way. The guide is divided into four main sections – injuries; illnesses; additional information; and assessment forms and charts – and is accompanied by the Ship’s Medicine Chest, which lists the medicines and medical equipment to be carried on board.

The injuries and illnesses sections follow a fixed structure:

  • What can you do yourself?
  • What questions should you ask the patient?
  • When should you call telemedical assistance?

The guide includes several features to quickly highlight important information and help you assess and treat your colleague:

Action cards
  • A quick guide to what to do first for the ten highest-risk medical incidents.
  • Included in a separate pack at the back of this guide.
  • Sections that have a correlating action card are indicated with the symbol on the page.
  • You may wish to keep the action cards in your medical kit bag.
Red boxes
  • Highlight important information.
  • In an emergency, read these first.
Photo-realistic figures
  • Show you what to do, and how to handle your patient.
What can you do?

Step by step guide that includes:

  • How to assess your patient and start immediate care.
  • Tests and medicines to consider.
  • When to contact TMAS.

The new recommended medicine chest includes medicines that are globally available and generally easy for shipowners and suppliers to get hold of, and are referenced in the book. Always check with telemedical assistance services (TMAS) before administering medicines if advised to do so.

Guy Platten


International Chamber of Shipping