Ongoing Training (Drills). How we run them!

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Ongoing training or drills as most people know them are vitally important to the safety of your vessel and all those onboard.

Many crew often say I’ve done a safety course before so I’m all good. Well, the truth is they are so far wrong it’s not remotely funny.

Ongoing training develops what we call “muscle memory” and that’s what’s imperative in dealing quickly, efficiently and safely with emergencies.

Simply put the more often you do something the easier it is to do it, without thinking when needed in an emergency.

When we do safety audits for new clients and see how most of them run drills we observe similar habits in all but a few.

What are these habits?

Let’s look at a fire drill in an accommodation space where the Master says we’ve got a fire lets deal with it. A deckhand grabs a fire extinguisher (sometimes) then pretends to put the fire out (hopefully). Great job…or is it?

While it’s a start it’s not covering off on all the “real life” situations including but not limited to:

  • did they raise the alarm
  • did they identify the source of the fire
  • did they identify what was burning
  • did they check for persons in the cabin
  • did they get the most appropriate fire extinguisher
  • did they have back up

All of the above are critical factors in safely and efficiently dealing with the situation.

An overview of how Shorlink runs drills.

Let’s look at the same situation, a fire in the accommodation area. When we run this scenario we incorporate multiple issues to make it more a “real life” situation. In addition to dealing with the fire we also put into this drill:

  • Initial dealing with a minor fire
  • Fire going from minor to major
  • Evacuation
  • Smoke
  • Injury (burns)
  • Assembly stations
  • Abandon ship

This situation represents a real life situation and not just a quick run through of a fire situation and incorporates 5 emergency situations as follows:

  • Fire
  • Evacuation
  • Injury
  • Assembly Stations
  • Abandon Ship

You can then record all 5 in your training log. Job done. Just do the same for all emergencies to cover off real life situations.

How often should drills be run?

Some operators have said that’s great we’ll do them once a year. Well, that sounds great but in reality it puts you in a dangerous position.

For example, you do a fire drill today and no further drills have been undertaken then 6 months latter there is a fire onboard that results in a serious injury to a crew member the question will be asked if the training period was adequate. The answer is NO it’s not adequate!

While there is now no set period for drills the onus is on you and/or the Master to ensure your crew have ongoing training in emergency response.

Wayne delivering flare training


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Ensure you conduct ongoing training (drills) at regular intervals of not more than 2 months is my recommendation. I prefer to see fire drills undertaken monthly and be focused on different areas of the vessel; e.g. engine room, galley, accommodation, etc.

We undertake inductions and initial training at the start of every season or on 2 separate occasions to ensure all existing and new crew are up to speed at all times. A simple cost effective means of ensuring you meet your requirements.

If you’re unsure about your ongoing training contact us and we can undertake a Safety Audit of your training and related documentation. Don’t wait until there’s a marine incident or an AMSA inspection!


Tip

Check your training documents to ensure they are up to date and comply with the requirements! If they are not them that means that you need to do some work to get your inductions and training up to date.

When you ask a Master or Skipper have they been doing drills they almost always say yes but I haven’t had time to do the paperwork. My response is they have not been done because the Master can’t prove it by producing the records.

My tip is to put them to work doing what they should be doing and do the inductions and training AND record them to ensure that when AMSA come onboard you have the documentation to show.


Log Books

Click Here for more information on our Crew Training Log Book