Obtaining radio medical advice

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At the open sea situations very often arise when immediate medical advice may be required. Nowadays it is possible to realize such advice by means of GMDSS equipment provided there are well-qualified operators on board.

In accordance with the Radio Service Regulations the ITU List of Radio-determination and Special Service Stations must be included into the ship’s Radio Documentation. This publication lists commercial and Government radio stations which provide free medical message service to ships. These messages are normally delivered to RCCs, hospitals or other facilities with which the communication facility has made prior arrangement.  RCCs forward these messages to SAR services which provide either radio medical advice or immediate evacuation of the casualty. SAR personnel contain well-qualified doctors trained in accordance with special program for medical treatment and evacuation at sea.

There are several enterprises in some States which provide subscription and pay-per-use medical advice to vessels at sea.

1)  The best known medical advisory service is Centro Internazionaie Radio-Medico in Rome, Italy. It provides round-the-clock medical assistance and advice service by radio for sailors of any nationality anywhere on the high seas. The service is free of charge. Radiotelephone calls are also free. The Centre has arrangement with authorities concerned and can transport the sick or injured by air and sea in the Mediterranean to adjacent hospitals. The messages should be prefixed with =MEDRAD=.

2)  There is also INMARSAT system which is available for communication concerning medical advice and assistance through the Coast Earth Stations. There are two such stations: one of them covers the Atlantic Ocean Area and another one covers the Pacific Ocean Area. Messages may be addressed to the US Coast Guard RCC. They should be prefixed with “MEDICO” and signed by the Master. The US Coast Guard RCC will promptly forward the messages received via INMARSAT to the medical facilities for action. On the base of the message necessary treatment will be decided upon by the medical staff and suitable instructions will be transmitted as soon as possible. Such messages should state briefly and clearly the symptoms of the affected person. During radio consultation all advice and directions of the doctor should be clearly understood and fully recorded. Telephone calls from ships to doctors are considered to be regular telephone calls in accordance with legally tariffs. No charge, however, is made for a call to US Coast Guard RCC when the ship states that there is a threat to safety of life or property at sea.  

 The follow information should be ready when requesting Radio Medical Advice:

·  Routine particulars about the ship

·  Routine particulars about the ship

·  Particulars of the illness/History of the injuries

·  Results of examination of the ill person

·  Diagnosis ( to your mind )

·  Treatment ( first aid and other )

·  Problems

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