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Monday, January 21, 2008

STCW-BST Training

I recently completed the Basic Safety Training Modules of STCW in order to satisfy current maritime certification requirements. The class consisted of 16 students: a mix of commercial fishermen looking to get out of a struggling industry; one student who came off a German Heavy Lift vessel, three or four professional mariners in the tug and barge trade, and several non-mariners looking to get their first Able Body Seaman Certificates. One of the students was just in the class for a renewal of his BST, which has to be done every 5 years.

Without exception, every one of the students began the class with the attitude . . . "Why do I have to be here?" This was especially true for people like me who were paying their own way. For the most part, no matter where you go for training, you'll be paying $1,000 to $1,500 to complete the BST (Basic Safety Training) modules:
  • Personal Safety
  • Personal Survival
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Fire Fighting
These four modules include the following instruction:

Personal Safety
  • Emergency signals, procedures and duties for crew members; the muster list; muster stations; station bill, etc.
  • Correct use of personal safety equipment
  • Basic environmental protection procedures
  • Safe working practices
  • Precautions in enclosed spaces
  • Accident prevention and occupational health
  • Dangers of drug and alcohol abuse
  • Maintaining good human and working relationships aboard the vessel
Personal Survival
  • Types of emergency situations, e.g. collision, fire, and foundering
  • Types of life-saving equipment normally carried on vessels
  • Various survival craft, inlcuding Life Boats, Life Rafts, and Rescue Craft
  • Davits, Cranes, etc.
  • Equipment in survival craft
  • Location of personal life-saving appliances
In addition to the instruction, students will practice and demonstrate their ability to use lifesaving equipment and flotation techniques during a "hands on" session in the water. In our cease, we had to swim two laps in our clothes and tread water while making a life jacket out of our pants. We also had to demonstrate proficiency with donning and doffing life jackets and survival suits, both in and out of water.

Elementary First Aid
  • Assessment of needs of casualties and threats to own safety
  • Appreciation of body structure and functions
  • Understanding immediate measures to be taken in cases of emergency, including the ability to:
    • apply resuscitation techniques
    • provide basic shock management
    • control bleeding
    • rescue and transport a casualty
    • improvise bandages and use materials in emergency kit
Basic Firefighting
  • Shipboard firefighting organization
  • Location of firefighting equipment and emergency escape routes
  • Types and sources of ignition
  • Flammable materials, fire hazards, and spread of fire
  • Actions to be taken on board ship
  • Classification of fire and applicable extinguishing agents
This included hands-on practice on the fire field by using various extinguishers, fire hoses/nozzles, and breathing gear to attack and extinguish fires, crawling through a smoke-filled maze, and sweeping smoke-filled rooms for survivors.

I have to say that by the end of the first day all the students in my training course were glad to be there, if only because it was still better to be at the Maritime Academy than working at sea in foul weather. Seriously, we all benefit from more training and education. It's good for us. And in this case, even professional mariners get a helpful refresher -- sometimes even a wake up call, like suddenly realizing it's time to lose a little weight, or take a walk instead of watching another re-run of Law & Order.

BST is the first of many STCW modules professional mariners need to work on larger (200-ton or more) vessels and/or vessels working beyond the 200-mile limit.

Other modules include: Bridge Resource Management (BRM) a.k.a. Bridge Teamwork Management; and Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats (PSC).


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