Friday, December 30, 2011

Better Safe Than Sunk—Part 2

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine.

Safety Training Modules
Most of the training sessions included an at-sea rescue demonstration by a Coast Guard helicopter team and an opportunity to look at the helicopter and speak to the team.

A half-day course consists of an introduction with a short video of vessels sinking and comments from the U.S. Coast Guard safety program officer.

Immersion Suit Module

In this module, participants don immersion suits, jump in the water, swim/float to a raft, and climb in.

Life Raft Module
In this module a trainer displays the contents of a raft, explaining each item and its utility. A raft deployment demonstration using a volunteer participant clearly illustrates the length of rope incorporated into the raft’s housing and the force of the deployment.

Flares and Firefighting Modules
Participants have the opportunity to shoot off a variety of flares and sample the rations kept in the raft. The firefighting module includes practicing a mayday call and extinguishing fires.

Picture 1: Two fishermen participate in the firefighting module.

Damage Control Module
The damage control module offers fishermen a chance to stem the sudden outpouring of water mimicking actual flooding conditions. A trainer also demonstrates stability issues using vessel models.

Picture 2: A fishing vessel stability demonstration.

First Aid Module
Training sessions include a first aid module that addresses basic issues such as how to handle trauma and bleeding.

Handling Immersion Suits
When the safety training courses began, approximately 30 percent of the immersion suits brought to the courses by fishermen failed.

Failures included:
  • malfunctioning zippers;
  • dried-up neoprene that cracked when unfolded;
  • extraneous lights or whistles that were improperly tied to the suit, resulting in tears or holes;
  • suits too large or too small for their owners;
  • suits so old that the seams ripped when tried on.
Those who had never attended formal training learned that:

The immersion suit is harder to get on than you think. Getting into the raft with the suit on can be challenging. Having your own suit is important.

Picture 3: Instructor Tom Toolis and Dana Collier (not pictured) lead an immersion suit demonstration while U.S. Coast Guard members serve as lifeguards. All pho- tos by Dr. Madeleine Hall-Arber.