Tuesday, January 10, 2012

AMSEA’s Port-Based Safety Training PART--1

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Mr. Jerry Dzugan, executive director, Alaska Marine Safety Education Association.

Commercial fishing has been a mainstay for all of the communities on the emerald-green island of Kodiak, which rises out of the Gulf of Alaska about 25 miles from its mainland, about 200 miles from Anchorage.

Unfortunately, plane fare to Anchorage to take fishing vessel safety training would cost around $600. Fortunately for Kodiak fishermen, they do not have to travel to take safety training, since it has been brought to them for years.

Individuals from the University of Alaska Sea Grant/Marine Advisory Program and Coast Guard air stations in Alaska pulled together resources from their own agencies, and flew out to remote fishing ports to teach marine safety workshops.

The non-profit group Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) was formed to address the high fatality rates in boating activities. Core principles of AMSEA’s safety training program:

  • the training had to be meaningful, relevant, and hands-on,
  • it had to be delivered to their homeports when fishermen were not fishing, additionally, the training needed to be low- or no-cost to effectively include even small fishing ports that did not have a steady cash economy.
Program Basics
Initial efforts focused on four areas.
First, new information needed to be incorporated in a cold weather-relevant marine safety manual on cold water survival.

Second, marine safety instructors needed to be trained so remote fishing ports could have their own local training resources.

Third, an inventory of marine safety training gear such as immersion suits, life rafts, wearable lifejackets, etc., had to be established so this gear could be procured, maintained, and sent to instructors in these ports.

Finally, these instructors would need support staff to help acquire funding, promote safety workshops, maintain training gear, coordinate classes, and perform other duties.

PICTURED: AMSEA instructor Steven Campbell explains to commercial fishermen how to form a human raft in pool exercises. USCG photo.

In Part 2 we will explore the AMSEA’s training accomplishments and results.