Travel Smarter: Plan for Medical Emergencies

Some of the best diving spots are also some of the most remote places on Earth; if your trip will take you to a distant, secluded location, make sure you plan for the possibility of needing medical care. Knowing in advance what to expect in an emergency, bringing the necessary equipment and taking preventive measures before you travel will not only improve possible outcomes in the event of an incident but could also help ease your mind about the potential dangers of visiting an isolated dive site.

Do your research. Know the area around your destination: Where is the nearest medical facility, and is hyperbaric oxygen therapy available? With a small number of hospitals and clinics able to provide hyperbaric oxygen, divers should prepare for alternative methods of addressing possible decompression sickness. Find out what options exist for receiving specialized care for a variety of medical needs. Write down any applicable phone numbers for the nearest medical facility. Ask your trip directors or dive leaders about their emergency plans, and know what help is available both on board and near your travel route.

Pack appropriately. When packing for your trip, identify what you might need if you experience an incident far from a hospital. For any trip, remember to bring your first-aid kit along with water, an extra insulating layer of clothing and any site-specific needs, such as reef-safe sunscreen, bug repellent and light sources. In addition to packing your regular medications, ask your physician for an extra prescription to have on hand. Have a notebook and writing utensil available, so if someone requires medical attention you can note symptoms and care provided before interacting with medical professionals.

Reduce your risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes lists of vaccines recommended before traveling to any destination. Identify any recommended vaccinations for your destination, and schedule to get them early. Your physician can also provide literature on any specialized medical care that existing conditions might require and help you determine whether circumstances at a specific location are likely to cause complications. For more information, visit or

© Alert Diver — Q2 Spring 2018