He was breathing when taken by air ambulance to the Austin Hospital and admitted in a critical condition, according to an Ambulance Victoria spokesperson.
The ferry had moved only metres from the Sorrento wharf when the man, 50, collapsed with an unknown medical condition, prompting the crew to swing into action.
The ferry was backed into position as two ambulances and the air ambulance arrived within 14 minutes to treat the man, who is said to be from Melbourne.
Searoad Ferries managing director Matt McDonald said the man “appeared to be fine when boarding the ferry” but that his condition quickly deteriorated.
“The crew said he looked OK but he walked up several fights of stairs and he may have had a [medical] history. We don’t know.”
Mr McDonald praised his crew for their quick response to the emergency. “They did a fantastic job. They do medical training and practice using the defibrillator and it’s paid off.”
He thanked passengers for their patience. “We had to cancel two trips and pull the pin on the 1pm service and so they were delayed an hour.”
The Sorrento-Queenscliff ferries carry 750,000 passengers a year. Mr McDonald said it was Australia’s busiest car-and-passenger service.
Picture: Andrew Mackinnon