Basic life support on small boats at sea

Mike Tipton, G. David, Clare Eglin, F. Golden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined the ability of the crew of small fast rescue boats to perform basic life support (BLS) at sea. Tests were undertaken aboard a 67 m emergency response and rescue vessel (ERRV), a 9.1 m (30 ft) and 11.6 m (38 ft) fast rescue craft (“daughter craft” (DC)). It was hypothesised that the ability to perform BLS on a DC would be significantly impaired when compared with that seen on the ERRV. Nine DC crew volunteered for the study. These tests were undertaken in sea states ranging from 0.5 to 6 (13 cm to 4 m wave height). Wind speeds ranged between 0 and 35 knots. The deterioration observed in the performance of BLS on board the DC compared to that seen on the ERRV was significant (P < 0.05) and was due, in part, to a tendency to over-inflate during rescue breathing, and under-compress during BLS when on the DC. Chest compression (CC) was impaired significantly above a sea state 3 (wave height 61–92 cm). It is concluded that the performance of BLS on small boats, in particular rescue breathing, is significantly adversely affected by two major factors, motion-induced interruption and early fatigue. As a consequence, the likelihood of conducting fully effective continuous BLS on a small boat in a seaway for any length of time, with a good chance of a successful outcome, is considered to be poor. However, this should not deter rescuers from attempting to make such efforts where practicable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-337
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


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