Incident management training

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.


I think it is a good idea. Implementation would be a pain, but overall a decent idea.

In the offshore deepwater drilling sector, Management of Major Emergencies (MME or MEM) has become a requirement for most any master or OIM. Post Macondo it is only more important and valuable to have because it is of no doubt a very eye opening training experience to go through.

COSTA CONCORDIA will only make such training more critical now which is a good thing. Any senior level officer should get this training and I for one believe it should be mandated as part of obtaining an unlimited tonnage master’s or chief’s license in the US.


Since there is already a class of that nature out there then it would not be as big a pain to implement. The USCG just needs to require that all management level officers take it.

Should that class be required every five years so people don’t forget?

Continuing ed appears to be a sore subject in the maritime industry. As an EMT, I have to renew every 2 year. POST (cops) need CE. Teachers and PE’s need it. So why do we only require to renew BST, and in most cases, seatime counts. I have been ashore over 6 years, but am still qualified as 2m/1600master. All I had to, hands on wise, was BST and radar…

A CE or renewal training on perishable and/or changing skills like emergency managment, Medical skills, BRM, electronics/computers, etc might not be a bad idea.