Special Staff! Who are they and what do they do?

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I’m often asked who are deemed special staff and what functions do they undertake onboard?

Special Staff can be entertainers, café workers, bar staff of any other role onboard where they are actual crew members involved in vessel operations.

Although many Special Staff have specific roles in the event of an emergency where they may be involved in crowd control or other specific task not directly related to the vessel itself.

A key point is that ALL Special Staff personnel must be inducted onto the vessel even if they are not involved in any emergency response tasks.

Special Staff who work in galleys and/or café areas should have a basic understanding of how to deal with a fire in their area.

Fires need immediate attention and if your Special Staff have to wait for a deckhand to arrive the fire could be out of control by the time they arrive on the scene.

Other Special Staff can be valuable in providing crowd control leaving the vessels crew to deal with the emergency situation at hand.

It can be as simple as directing passengers to an Assembly Point, helping them don their lifejacket, conducting a head count or checking for injuries.

The more people trained in emergency response onboard your vessel the easier it is to deal with the situation at hand.

Having an emergency action plan that involves your Special Staff provides much greater protection for your passengers, crew and vessel in the event of an emergency situation. Some commercial vessels have cooks onboard and these should be included in emergency response procedures.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our recommendation is all Special Staff to have emergency response training relevant to their duties onboard.. All Special Staff should have basic fire response training in how to use a fire blanket and fire extinguishers.

In addition, they should all have basic training in crowd control measures, donning lifejackets and assembly station procedures.


One of the best tips we can offer is to have Special Staff who are regular workers onboard to have First Aid training.

This alone can free up crew members allowing them to concentrate on the situation at hand while knowing that First Aid is being provided by Special Staff.