I need some good scenarios and surprises to keep our emergency drills fresh. I run a small passenger vessel in south east AK. Total crew is two, myself as captain and one “deckineer”. I’ve recently taken to hiding cards and notes around the boat for my deckhand to find to simulate the unpredictability of an emergency. Any other ideas for creative ways to execute emergency drills, or accounts of incidents affecting small passenger vessels that I can use in a safety meeting or a training situation are greatly appreciated. Many thanks!
Good Day Swab,
One thing I have done is to have a table top drill. Get everyone together and go over a scenario. Take notes and discuss the scenario in detail. What can go wrong, how to respond to the unexpected. In my opinion it gets people thinking about it. Then the next drill have that scenario and put everything that was discussed into practice. I find these scenarios get more interest and involvement. In my case I have many different emergency teams and resources available.
Also in the event you ever have a real situation, make sure to pick the reactions apart one by one to see if there are any improvement opportunities. In my career I have had to deal with several minor fires and emergencies. There are always things that we could have done better or risks that were unnecessary. These are noted to prevent re-occurrence.
On such a small crew this may be difficult, but change up the responsibilities. For example take the captain out of the scenario. use him as the man down. Each person not only needs to know their duties, but the duties of the person above and below on the station bill. For two reason. One there could be one of you down in a real situation or some one may vapor lock and be useless in a real emergency. In these cases someone must pick up the torch and know what to do.
One other thing I have thought about. I know most boat companies do not support this, but there is emergency training available that is useful. Falck Alford, Petrofac and several other companies offer a course called Management of Major Emergencies. This is one of the most useful courses I have ever taken. You can look into getting your company to send your crew to this course or pay for it out of pocket. You will get more out of it if you attend this as a crew. It really opens your eyes and brings a set structure to dealing with emergencies. When I attended this training I changed everything about my drills and implemented almost everything that I learned in the course on board. The safety of the vessel improved and the client absolutely loved it. I also arranged for onshore personnel to attend the same course including the client. This training was done at the office, because they will have to deal with the emergency and support us.
Good drills save lives.
A good drill I’ve tried a few times is going around starting real fires in various places around the vessel and seeing how long it actually takes them to put it out. Shame I was sacked from every company for trying this.
[QUOTE=follow40;165890]A good drill I’ve tried a few times is going around starting real fires in various places around the vessel and seeing how long it actually takes them to put it out. Shame I was sacked from every company for trying this.[/QUOTE]
Definitely not a recommended practice. I know it is a joke, well at least I hope it is.
One other controversial thing to do is have a drill at night. Which I agree is valuable, but with today´s focus on safety, if someone gets hurt during one of these drills there will be hell to pay. It has to be done, but don´t get too elaborate with these unless it is an announced drill.
Also you can vary the drill days and times. It is easy to fall into the routine of the same time same day drills. Half the people are at the muster station prior to the alarm.
There are so many things that can be done, the list is long. Getting people to take the drills seriously is the hardest thing to do. If you set clear expectations for your drills. Communicate this to the crew. If they don´t meet these expectation then have another drill the same day or the following day. After being woken up several days in a row, people tend to get it right the first time. It won´t make you the most popular Captain in the world, but it will instill a little discipline in the crew.
My issue is with people freaking out in an emergency. If I ever get promoted to captain someday we will do drills with a heavy bag, practicing how to incapacitate the guy who is freaking out and hindering our emergency response. Cool, calm, collected. Yes the boat is on fire but you screaming about it will NOT help. Maybe you go standby the life raft while we deal with the issue?
We tend to exercise/test equipment as a crew, and then discuss situations. I like to delegate an put the engineer in charge of pumps/ventilation, AB on a hose or other gear etc. it creates a little ownership, especially when we mix it up and the roles are reversed, for example If the chief finds an issue with the hose the deckhand is supposed to be in charge of. Not passing responsibility to them but we make it “their job” to keep equipment ready. Ownership does wonders.
[QUOTE=z-drive;165892]My issue is with people freaking out in an emergency.[/QUOTE]
You can not predict how people will act in a real situation, but you need to be ready to deal with it. Every time I think about the Horizon it just gives me the chills. I just can´t imagine the noise, the heat, the chaos, the fear. I know we have drills to prepare for the worst. I can only hope that the training and cooperation takes over if I ever have to deal with the worst case scenario. We are not working at a dairy. What we do is dangerous and when things go wrong the consequences are high.
Stick to the basics. It’s ok if the drill is a challenge for the officers but keep it simple for the crew. We do table top but also drill with senior officers going over an emergency check list over the phone without crew involvement.
At each drill assign someone to demonsrate some piece of equipment, For example make sure everyone can use a fire extinguisher. Key points should get extra attention but don’t waste the crew’s time and attention. Show the ABs how to use the SCBAs after the drill one on one with the C/M.
To get a message across to the crew keep repeating the same message until you are sick of saying it and then keep saying it without variation.
Build the crew’s confidence in their abilities and the ship’s gear and equipment. For example don’t say you have a fixed CO 2 system, say you have an excellent, high capacity and reliable CO 2 system.
Hold team leaders to a higher standard.
I agree, however with a smaller crew I know who will react a certain way from experience. There is always the chance someone will react in a way you didn’t expect so it’s not an exact science by any means. I have one crewman who the captain, myself and hotshot AB know does not handle diverse situations well and as a path of least resistance we are in a habit of eliminating them from the equation the best we can by assigning them a task where they can still be an asset yet not throw our whole response off.
This is small crew stuff I describe yet I admire the ability to manage a large crew with distinct departments as you do.
Back on topic for the OP: one thing that irritated the shit out of me not too long ago was anther boat in our fleet had a small fire in the ER. Not a major deal, but there were flames and smoke. They handled the situation but we were less than a mile away and had no idea at first. Once we did, because we saw it, we didn’t know if they had it under control or not. My point is that if you can do so alert other vessels that may be able to help. I’d love to see someone come alongside with 4-7 extra men and a dozen more SCBA bottles if I had a fire no matter how small. Something you/crew may not think of but its something to discuss as additional damage control gear (pumps, SCBA, extinguishers etc) you may not normally think of. (Other boats!)
Often individual crew members want to go straight to the scene and take direct action instead of their assigned task. That has to be corrected.
[QUOTE=Capt. Lee;165877]Good Day Swab,
One thing I have done is to have a table top drill. Get everyone together and go over a scenario. Take notes and discuss the scenario in detail. What can go wrong, how to respond to the unexpected. In my opinion it gets people thinking about it. Then the next drill have that scenario and put everything that was discussed into practice. I find these scenarios get more interest and involvement.[/QUOTE]
In emergency response I really do think ‘you play like you practice’. The table top is great approach and I like to also include ‘walk and talk’ sessions. Get in the space, go through a notional response step by step, truth test what you discussed in the table top. Then graduate to an ‘exercise’.
Lots of good comments in this thread and the note about people running amuck well, you may not be able to predict who that is going to be in advance. The opposite is true too. You don’t know who might rise to the occassion when the bell rings. As a leader you should be able to know it when you see it and be open to making changes to the assignments on the fly. The idea of changing roles would help in that regard.
Many thanks to all who have replied. I will be taking a number of these suggestions and applying or adapting them to our vessel and crew situations. I like the idea of switching roles. With such a small crew we all ready cross train, but putting the deckhand in the captains chair during a safety drill hadn’t occurred to me. Im sure it will be beneficial, or at least educational, for him to see what my duties are in the event of an emergency. Thanks again!