Tag Archive for: Training

While most of us hope we never have to deal with an emergency situation at sea or in our shore-based business, the fact is we can find ourselves in an emergency situation which requires swift action at any moment.

Even though we don’t think about it, the simple fact is we face the potential of a fire onboard our vessel or in our office or factory every day. It’s not only fires there are so many other emergency situations that can occur both at sea and ashore.

Potential emergencies at sea

A short list of emergencies that can occur at sea which includes but is not limited to:

  • Fire
  • Person overboard
  • Injuries both minor, serious and critical
  • Collision
  • Grounding
  • Flooding (taking on water)
  • Adverse weather

Potential emergencies onshore

A short list of emergencies that can occur onshore which includes but is not limited to:

  • Fire
  • Injuries both minor, serious and critical
  • Forklift accidents
  • Vehicle accidents/collisions
  • Collisions between vehicles and people
  • Flooding by natural causes or plumbing failures
  • Bomb/terrorist threats
  • Working at heights
  • Working in confined spaces

Both of these lists are to highlight potentially what can happen at sea and in shore-based facilities and start you thinking about how you would deal with them.

For vessels it starts with having a Safety Management System (SMS) that complies with either Marine Order 504 or the ISM Code. The SMS must have documented procedures for dealing with onboard emergencies.

Shore-based facilities the starting point is having an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) that preferably complies with ISO 45001. This manual must have documented procedures for dealing with workplace emergencies.

The emergency procedures for both of these should include procedures for all potential emergencies identified which is the first step to being “emergency prepared”.

The second step is to ensure all vessel crew and shore-based workers are inducted into each procedure relevant to their allocated duties.

Following on from that all crew and workers must be trained in emergency procedures that apply to them. Training should include initial and ongoing training to ensure they can deal with emergency situations in a safe and efficient manner.

Note that all crew &/or workers are not necessarily responsible for all emergency procedures as they may not be involved in some tasks or areas where the potential dangers exist.

From a vessel or business owners’ perspective they must ensure all of the above are in place and undertaken to ensure your vessel or business has the best chance of surviving emergency situations.

While we understand that all of this is a lot of work how much work do you think it takes to deal with the loss of a vessel or business facility or worse still the serious injury or death of crew members or workers?

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to ensure you have a compliant SMS for commercial vessels &/or a OHSMS for business owners.

Actually, this is not just a recommendation it’s law!


The best tip we can give you is once you have your SMS or OHSMS in place is to ensure you induct and train all crew members &/or shore-based workers in emergency procedures.

Failure to do this puts you, your vessel or business and the lives of those who work for you in serious danger!

Is it worth the risk?

You can either conduct these inductions/trainings yourself, or Shorlink can provide these for peace of mind.  Click Here for more information.

While it’s something that we hope we don’t have to do, it can be a task we’re faced with! AMSA coordinate all search and rescue operations (SAR) in Australia and activate local Water Police who may then task local rescue organisations to assist with their efforts.

When a distress beacon is activated, AMSA react by calling the emergency contacts listed in the EPIRBs registration and then if necessary go into action. The same thing applies when a MAYDAY called is received.

Depending on the location of the distress beacon or mayday, AMSA may launch one of their aircraft to conduct a search and/or activate local Water Police who may in turn task the local rescue organisation.

AMSA or the local Water Police may request any vessels in the vicinity to assist with the SAR operations and will advise you of their specific requirements.

Many vessel operators and in particular commerical vessels, have procedures for assisting with SAR efforts and these should be followed to ensure safety and insurance requirements are covered.

When requested to participate in SAR, the coordinator (usually Water Police) will usually direct you to a search grid. All you have to do is follow their directions and maintain regular contact to relay all relevant information.

When required the SAR coordinator will tell you to stand down and issue any further instructions as may be required.

SAR procedure

While this procedure applies mainly to those who operate in more open waters but in our view should apply to all vessels whether operating in open waters, bays or estuaries!

We’ve been asked why it should be included in SMS’s for vessels that work in rivers. Our answer is simple. For us there are two points to take into account here…

  1. While you may be in a river or small bay, locating a vessel may not be that difficult during daylight – but during the hours of darkness or in restricted visibility it becomes more difficult, especially if it’s a large river system and the information at hand is limited: BUT
  1. How hard is it to locate a person in the water? Even during daytime locating a person in the water can be difficult. Whether conditions, available light and many other factors can make locating a person in the water difficult.

Things to consider when developing a SAR procedure

For most operators this procedure should be based on working with relevant emergency groups such as the local Water Police and rescue organisations.

More specific procedures are required for some operators which provide rescue services or vessels operating in isolated locations where help is not easily obtained quickly.

The primary things to consider prior to developing a search and rescue procedure are…

  • Where you operate
  • The size and type of vessel
  • Fuel
  • Fatigue factors
  • Who is controlling the operation, the SAR coordinator


Shorlink’s Recommendation

While a SAR procedure is not mandatory, we strongly recommend it, especially for those who operate offshore.

You never know when you may be required to assist in SAR or be in a situation where you are involved in an incident that you are the victim in need of SAR!


Many of the incidents that occur requiring SAR can be eliminated or if they do occur can be safely and efficiently dealt with by regular maintenance and having crew that have appropriate training and… ongoing training is provided.

Our best tip is to ensure your maintenance and crew training are up to date. Emergency training for crew needs to be regular not just when they join the vessel so please ensure your crew are properly trained!

Did you know that although you may live in a warm climate or tropical area you can still become a victim of hypothermia?

I often hear comments like: “I work in Northern Queensland waters, so hypothermia is not a problem for me!”


The truth is that it still is a problem and it’s even worse because many people continue to believe that in warm climates hypothermia is not a problem if you’re in the water.

In simple terms if the water you’re in or even air that has a lower temperature than your body you can suffer from hypothermia.

Consider your body temperature in normal conditions is around 37°C and you go overboard in water with a temperature of 23°C which is common in warmer climate zones.

Your body will immediately start to adjust to the external (water or air) temperature which means it’s going to drop significantly and…in a short time!

If you’re in the water for even a short time then hypothermia is going to start developing.


Knowing how to identify the symptoms of hypothermia is a vital part of survival at sea and in the preservation of life.

In water with a temperature of 21°C to 26°C the expected time before exhaustion or unconsciousness is between 3 to 12 hours depending on the individual. The expected time of survival is anywhere from 3 hours to indefinite.

If the water temperature is 10°C to 15°C the expected time before exhaustion or unconsciousness is between 1 to 2 hours with an expected survival time of between 1 to 6 hours!

So…as part of your survival you and all crew members need to know how to identify the symptoms of hypothermia because it may be your life that is saved.

Hypothermia Symptoms

We break up the symptoms into two categories…

  1. Mild hypothermia; and
  2. Moderate to severe hypothermia

Mild Hypothermia Symptoms

Symptoms for mild hypothermia include…

  • Shivering
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Faster breathing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Slight confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

Moderate to Severe Hypothermia Symptoms

  • Shivering, although as hypothermia worsens shivering stops
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Confusion and poor decision making such as trying to remove warm clothes
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Lack of concern about one’s condition
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing

What about hypothermia in children?

Charter and passenger vessels often have children onboard as passengers there anyone operating on these vessels should also be able to identify hypothermia in children. The symptoms include…

  • Bright red, cold skin
  • Very low energy
  • A weak cry

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you don’t know the signs of hypothermia developing you may be witnessing death in the making because hypothermia can kill in 6 minutes!

My recommendation is to not only know but also understand the signs of hypothermia and how to deal with anyone suffering from it.

Remember hypothermia increases blood to the brain and alters your judgement so…be on guard at all times, even on hot summer days.


Hypothermia is not limited to being in the water, it can be an issue for those working in cold climates on deck or ashore. It can even impact people in freezer rooms if not wearing the appropriate PPE!

My best tip is to ensure you wear the right clothing and have the appropriate PPE for the conditions you are working in!

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!


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

Crew inductions and training, just how important are they and can they get you sent home or cause delays in getting to sea?

The simple answer is yes they can and have done so already. I’ve been telling vessel owners and operators for some time AMSA will be getting tough on inductions and training with a recent case highlighting this.

A warning for all owners, operators and Masters

AMSA undertook a vessel inspection and conducted challenge testing to see how the crew would handle an emergency situation. The result, the vessel was tied up due to the crew failing to be able to demonstrate they were competent.

You need to ensure all crew, new and existing know the location of:

  • all safety appliances
  • all firefighting appliances and equipment
  • fuel shut offs
  • air shut offs
  • fire suppression system activation point
  • engine room fans
  • isolation points for electrical areas and items

Not only do your crew have to know where these items are but also how to use them. It’s no use knowing where something is and not knowing how to use it properly and safely!

Do your crew know where all of the above items are and how to use them?

If not then be prepared to be sent home or tied up before you leave port because AMSA now have a focus on ensuring all crew members can handle emergency situations and…so should you!

For fleet owners

If you’re a fleet owner or operator and you have crew that operate on different vessels they must be inducted onto each vessel they work on. Remember that while a vessel may undertake the same operations each vessel is different in some way.

This makes it critical that you ensure all crew are inducted onto each vessel they work on and their induction and initial and ongoing training onboard that vessel is recorded properly.

Record Keeping

While it’s good that you induct new crew and provide initial and ongoing emergency response training if you don’t record it then as far as regulators are concerned it didn’t happen.

You need to ensure all inductions and training are recorded in accordance with regulatory requirements.

At Shorlink we have a set of standard forms we use for recording inductions and training which are:

  • Crew Induction Agreement
  • Crew Details
  • Crew Induction Record (for use by Masters when inducting new crew)
  • Emergency Preparedness Training Record (for Masters use to record ongoing training, drills)
  • Crew/Vessel Induction and Training Record. This is a form we use internally when we conduct inductions and initial emergency response training.

Shorlink inductions, initial training and ongoing training.

We undertake vessel specific crew inductions and initial emergency response training for a large number of our clients.

These are delivered based on their operations which may be seasonal or for others either monthly, bi-annually or annually.

In conjunction with these we provide hands on distress flare and portable fire extinguisher training to ensure all crew members know how to use these items if necessary.

Contact our office for more information!


Wayne delivering fire extinguisher training! Wayne delivering fire extinguisher training!


Shorlink’s Recommendation

My number one recommendation is to ensure you fully induct each and every crew member, new and existing. To ensure all crew members remain up to date and efficient with emergency response ensure you conduct ongoing training (drills) at regular intervals.

We also recommend that you go through vessel/crew inductions and initial training at least once a year to ensure everything is up to date.

If you’re unsure about your inductions and training contact us here at Shorlink to help you get yours up to date and compliant. Don’t wait until there’s an emergency or AMSA inspection! Our inductions and training sessions provide a simple cost effective means of ensuring you meet your requirements.


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

While most of you out there are aware that Shorlink develops safety management systems and…one of the best in the business there’s another side to our business that many people are not aware of.

A major part of our business involves the delivery of vessel specific onboard crew training in emergency preparedness.

While there are a number of classroom courses available Shorlink is the only company that specialises in “onboard” delivery to your crew members.

We develop training based on your vessel and it’s operations to ensure your crew can deal with onboard emergencies in the event they are faced with one!

Our focus is to ensure your crew go home safe by developing both individual capabilities and operating as part of a team.

We provide a mix of theory combined with hands on practical training (drills) to ensure all crew members can operate individually and as part of a team.

Fires onboard are a major concern for all those at sea and that’s where our hands-on training actually using fire extinguishers proven beneficial on many occasions.

While most crew members know what flares are and what they are used for most don’t know how to use them or have even let one off. We make sure all crew members do hands on flare training including letting one off.

Simply knowing how to deal with a person overboard as a team provides the best possible chance of recovering the victim and saving a life. Our training involves actually undertaking drills to ensure all crew work as a team.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

While having your crew undertaking drills onboard themselves does not always mean they are getting the best training or even doing it right and…that’s where we come in!

We recommend getting us in to do training either monthly, quarterly or at the start of the season to ensure your crew can handle onboard emergencies safely and efficiently.


Feel your crew are doing thinks OK then we recommend getting us in to do an audit on the training being provided as this can greatly increase your crew’s safety level and demonstrates your focus on safety and compliance!

Over the last few months there was a significant number of marine incidents reported and I’m guessing a few that weren’t reported!

It’s interesting to note that during this period there were a number of incidents reported involving Class 4 (H&D) vessels.

Let’s look at a few incidents by class…

Class 4

  • While taking down the sails the jib fell overboard and took down the mast losing the mast and rigging overboard
  • Yacht ran aground
  • Vessel capsized

Class 3

  • A fisherman who was working solo fell overboard and drowned.
  • Fishing vessel struck a submerged reef with a potential risk of pollution
  • Fishing vessel started taking on water and sank
  • Crew member bitten by a sea snake

Class 2

  • Non-passenger vessel collided with a recreational vessel
  • Non-passenger vessel collided with a moored tug and barge
  • Non-passenger vessel capsized in a large swell
  • A crew member was crushed between a pile and the punt’s motor and protection frame then fell overboard suffering serious injury.

Class 1

  • A vessel grounded in mud and rocks attempting to avoid a collision with another vessel
  • A fire and smoke occurred due to wiring connectors

What do many of these incidents have in common?

I asked a number of people that question and most replied many were just unavoidable accidents but…were they?

Without having all of the details we could say that being involved in a collision, running aground and capsizing may have more to do with failing to keep an adequate lookout than just being an unavoidable accident.

The safety and wellbeing of you and your crew relies on the watchkeeper maintaining an adequate lookout. An adequate lookout means knowing what’s around you at all times!

During recent Operational Audits we’ve undertaken more than one Master settled themselves in the helm seat and only got out when in need of a coffee or toilet break.

Is that appropriate? I don’t think so! Some said, “I have all the electronics to ensure I know what’s around me and the depth of water under the keel so why bother getting out of my seat?”

My response to that is if you have steelwork behind the radar you have a shadow or interference that may hide a vessel behind you and how well does radar pick up a yacht without a radar reflector?

As I said, your safety and the safety of all persons onboard and the vessel is in your hands when on watch!

While we all try to avoid fires onboard sometimes they do happen so ensuring your firefighting appliances and equipment are all in good working order is a valuable safety measure.

Flooding can be caused by many reasons including a breach in the hull, unsecured hatches/doors, broken or fractured water pipes, deck hoses dropped and falling into an open hatch and many other reasons.

Regular inspections and maintenance are the key to preventing flooding situations as is ensuring all hatches and sea doors are kept closed and secured.

Crushing incidents are almost always preventable if you follow the appropriate procedures and ensure the right safety equipment is available. Another issue I’ve noted on many occasions is that the work vessel is not adequately secured to the other vessel or structure.

This has the potential to allow unnecessary movement or space between the other vessel or structure which in turn provides an unsafe workplace. While, at times this may be necessary the following of safe work procedures is critical to your safety!

Interaction with sea snakes is inevitable when working on fishing vessels but ensuring you have current knowledge of how to deal with them and snake bite bandages you’re well on the way to saving a life. I’m pleased to say that the snake bite victim survived due largely to their First Aid training and the onboard crew training we deliver.

Working solo can be as dangerous as it gets so it’s imperative that if you do work solo you have appropriate safety measures in place. These may be wearing a PFD or harness or other measures but…you do need them for your own safety!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our top recommendations are…

  1. Ensure a proper lookout is maintained at all times when underway and at anchor; and
  2. Install a Watch Guard or use your mobile phone’s timer if you don’t have a watch guard;
  3. Ensure regular inspections are undertaken of the hull, machinery and equipment;
  4. Ensure all hatches and sea doors are kept closed when at sea; and
  5. Remain aware at all times


Our number one tip is to make sure your SMS is up to date and has all the relevant procedures for both operations and emergencies and…

…all the crew are inducted into the SMS and all procedures!