I KNOW, I KNOW, the last thing anyone wants to do is MORE schooling… BUT I had a thought.
In an article I was reading (I think here on gCaptain actually) about the COST CONCORDIA debacle it compared the captain of a vessel that is experiencing an emergency to a fire chief (or other fire officer) who is the incident commander at a fire scene. I thought this was interesting, since I am both a mariner and a firefighter.
This comparison is apt is some ways, but not in others. A ship’s captain and an FD command level officer (Captain, Bat Chief, Ast Chief, Dep Chief, Dep-Ast Chief or just plain CHIEF - confusing???) both have years of experience in their given profession and use that experience to carry out their duties, day in and day out. The difference is that the fire officer’s day to day duties include managing emergencies like fires, accidents and hazmat incidents. The ship captain’s day to day duties, while often as chaotic, are not focused on these kind of incidents. Yes, the captain has long ago forgotten how many fire and lifeboat drill’s he’s attended/ran, and probably he has a few real emergencies under his/her belt. So when it comes to handling emergencies, he probably doesn’t have any more experience than a probie or second year FF, who certainly would not be expected to function as an incident commander.
YET, we expect, and rightly so, the captain be the incident commander on vessel during any kind of emergency (or the next most senior officer in the Old Man’s absence or incapacity). The second best thing to experience is education, and while not perfect its what we got to work with, so we should be teaching our deck (and engine) officers about incident management.
What does everyone think about this idea. My thoughts are as follows: A 2 step approach, basic training during academy training, then advanced schooling during “upgrade” training for C/M. I am not talking about the junk that FEMA throws out called ICS/NIMS, however, ICS 700/100/200 should be worked into the basic, and 300/400 into the advanced, at least in US training, since this is the framework the shoreside responders will be using, and the ship’s officers need to be able to “plug in” to it. But I was thinking more along the lines of how to handle emergencies, how to lead, how to use your resources (like BRM), etc. computer or “table top” simulation, like that used in fire officer training could be extremely beneficial. I think Engineering Officers need to have some of this training as well, so they know how to fit in to the overall system.