Beating the Odds on the North
Alaska Marine Safety Training
May 16, 2008
Five crewmembers died when the fishing vessel, Alaska Ranger,
sank last March in the Bering Sea, a jolting reminder that mariners
must be prepared for the worst.
A surviving crewmember of the
Alaska Ranger told investigators that no one assigned to
his life raft knew how to deploy it. Another crewmember died
after falling out of a Coast Guard helicopter rescue basket.
Problems with immersion suits may have contributed to other deaths.
Solid safety training reduces
the number of these tragedies. Mariners can easily get that training
in Alaska, including complete instruction on how to use life
rafts, execute rescues by helicopters, and use and care for immersion
suits, from the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA).
"According to the National
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), safety-trained
fishermen are 1.5 times more likely to survive an accident at
sea. When the chips are down, just having the survival equipment
without knowing how to get the most out of it in an emergency,
always turns out to be a bad decision," said Jerry Dzugan,
Founded in 1985 and based in
Sitka, Alaska, AMSEA collaborates with the U.S. Coast Guard,
University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Vocational Technical Center,
the Alaska commercial fishing industry, and others to help mariners
prevent and survive accidents at sea.
Thousands of mariners have
been trained via AMSEA training programs and materials. Fishermen
attest that the training has saved lives. One fisherman told
Dzugan that his crew successfully recovered a man overboard,
thanks to preparation by AMSEA. "The drill training was
very important. When the crewmember fell overboard, everything
just clicked well together, and we got the person back onboard.
The training was really helpful," the fisherman said.
The Coast Guard also has good
things to say about AMSEA training. Referring to separate incidents
when they rescued AMSEA trained fishermen, Coast Guardsmen told
Dzugan, "These guys were well prepared and they did everything
right!" and in reference to another tragedy averted, "These
guys did everything right. All we had to do was just give them
a ride home."
In addition to providing complete
marine safety training programs, AMSEA teams with the Alaska
Sea Grant College Program at the UAF School of Fisheries and
Ocean Sciences to produce publications and videos that provide
information crucial to safety at sea.
The following AMSEA marine
safety training materials are available from Alaska Sea Grant's
book store at http://seagrant.uaf.edu/bookstore/safety.html
and at the AMSEA office in Sitka, 907-747-3287.
Beating the Odds on Northern
Waters: A Guide to Fishing Safety (book)
Hundreds of safety trainers, including the U.S. Coast Guard,
have relied on this illustrated book as their primary reference
and teaching tool. Among other Coast Guard approved safety information,
the book includes step-by-step directions on conducting federally
required safety drills. Authors explain how fishermen can prevent
and survive accidents, maintain safety gear, and train crew so
that problems don't escalate into disaster.
Rescues at Sea: A Guide
to Helicopter Rescues and Dewatering Pumps (video)
This video shows how to prepare for helicopter arrival, medevac
procedures, and dewatering pump delivery. The video is of value
to all boaters, commercial and noncommercial, and is especially
useful in waters where help from surface search and rescue vessels
Survival at Sea Series
Four marine safety DVDs are available in one box for a discount
over individual prices: A Matter of Survival (26 min.),
When Seconds Count: The Care and Use of Immersion Suits (15
min.), Beating the Odds: Onboard Emergency Drills (32
min.), and Rescues at Sea: A Guide to Helicopter Rescues and
Dewatering Pumps (24 min.). This set is useful to all boaters
on commercial and noncommercial vessels. For experienced mariners
they will reinforce critical safety and survival skills. For
less experienced boaters they are an introduction to the equipment
and skills necessary for safety and survival. Produced by the
Alaska Marine Safety Education Association with funding provided
by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Care and Use of Immersion
Aware that immersion suits are required on board most fishing
vessels, many fishermen buy the suits without making sure they
fit, and pay little attention to how they can use them to save
a life. When Seconds Count tells what features to look
for when purchasing an immersion suit, how to put one on, how
to use it, and how to take care of it. The audience for the video
is all mariners, and features fishermen, sailboaters, children,
and tugboat operators. Filmed in Alaska, the video is useful
worldwide. Before you pay $250-$500 for your immersion suit-take
a look at this video. http://seagrant.uaf.edu/bookstore/pubs/MAPV-38.html
Marine Survival Equipment
and Maintenance (video and workbook)
This book and video set explains how to choose, install, use,
and maintain emergency equipment that is required by law aboard
commercial fishing vessels.
Fishing Vessel Stability:
Operational Practices (video)
Stability problems account for 35 percent of all vessel losses.
This video outlines nine factors that affect operational stability
of small fishing vessels-proper loading, free surface effect,
watertight integrity, icing, lifting loads, shifting loads, weight
creep, hang-ups, and heavy seas-and suggests procedures to enhance
stability and improve safety conditions. Footage of real fishing
vessel capsizings, models, and survivor interviews illustrates
the potentially tragic results of vessel stability problems.
The film is useful for all operators and crew on fishing vessels
or small workboats.
A Matter of Survival: Liferaft
Survival Pack (video)
This training video demonstrates the proper use of the contents
of a life raft survival equipment pack, and tells how the equipment
can be upgraded. Through dramatizations and interviews with survivors
who have used life rafts, the contents of survival equipment
packs are explored in context of the Seven Steps to Survival.
The video is useful to anyone who owns or is considering buying
a life raft.
Beating the Odds (video)
Demonstrates the safety equipment required by law on fishing
vessels, and demonstrates how to conduct safety drills with vessel
Flooding Control (video)
Half of all vessels lost at sea sink because of uncontrolled
flooding. This video shows how to prevent flooding, describes
equipment and procedures to have in place before flooding, and
explains emergency flooding control techniques.
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