Thursday, December 29, 2011

Better Safe Than Sunk—Part 1

Better Safe Than Sunk—Part 1

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Dr. Madeleine Hall-Arber, Center for Marine Social Sciences, MIT Sea Grant College Program and Dr. Karina Lorenz Mrakovcich, Department of Science, U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

When the New Bedford, Mass.-based commercial fishing vessel Northern Edge sank on December 20, 2004, only one of the six-person crew survived. Reports explained he was the only one to have participated in fishing vessel safety training.

Soon after, New Bedford’s mayor Fred Kalisz visited the head of NOAA Fisheries in Washington, D.C., to discuss improving safety. Subsequently NOAA Fisheries committed to providing $100,000 toward safety training in New Bedford.

A Sea Change
Ultimately more than 1,200 fishermen attended basic hands-on safety training in Massachusetts between 2005 and 2010. All of the sessions were judged useful and clearly presented. The main suggestions were for slightly longer sessions to allow even more hands-on training, particularly for first aid and fire extinguishing.

Two attendees suggested using a more realistic setting for the firefighting simulation; one suggested a vessel and the other an enclosed space. Another recommendation: Add CPR training to the first aid module.

Workshop trainer Ted Williams explains life raft use.

The Take-Aways
The safety project managers found that direct communication with vessel owners and captains by someone they respect is crucial. Crewmember participation was frequently dependent on the captain’s and/or owner’s encouraging or requiring attendance. Timing is also very important, since it is challenging to attract attendance during active fishing periods, but should be available when safety is still on fishermen’s minds.

The workshops also developed “risk knowledge” among participants so that they began to see safety preparation and training as potentially life-saving rather than simply another bureaucratic requirement. Additionally, the significant level of participation in the safety training by the Northeast fishing industry suggests increasing optimism among fishermen about their ability to survive accidents at sea.

A U.S. Coast Guard at-sea rescue demonstration

In part 2—safety training up close and personal.

Full article is available at

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