Last Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard medically evacuated a 25-year-old fisherman experiencing symptoms of heat stroke about 50 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The crew of the 88-foot F/V INTEGRITY notified Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector Southeastern New England about the medical emergency around 1:13 p.m., and a Jayhawk helicopter crew responded. By 2:23 p.m., the unresponsive fisherman was being transported to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. There was no immediate update on his condition.
Severe heat stroke can result in permanent disability or death. According to Richard Elliot, command center controller at Sector Southeastern New England, “The Coast Guard urges mariners on the water to use caution in hot temperatures. It is important to keep yourself well hydrated and protected from the sun.” Maritime workers and recreational boaters alike should take steps to protect themselves from heat-related illness.
It is also important for maritime employers to ensure all vessels are properly equipped with safety and communication equipment, so crewmembers have the tools they need to respond to a medical emergency such as heat stroke. Moreover, employers should educate workers about the risks associated with working in the heat and encourage them to keep cool and hydrated.
Fishing companies and other maritime businesses should have clear policies and procedures in place to protect workers from injury and illness, including heat stroke, and should properly train all workers. When a maritime injury results from negligence, such as missing or defective equipment, lack of proper procedures, or failure to provide a safe working environment, the employer may be liable for damages.
If you have suffered a job-related injury or illness while working in the maritime industry, visit our website to learn about your rights under maritime law, and call us toll free at (800) 392-6072 to speak with a Boston maritime attorney.
Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers