February 28, 2013 | Volume 43, No. 8

Classes on marine safety offered

Representatives from the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association are offering a safety training class free to commercial fishermen March 8-10.

Instructor Mike Morris will travel to Haines and hold three days of educational classes and hands-on training drills ranging from man overboard recovery to abandon ship procedures.

The Friday night class, which is open to the public and free of charge, will focus specifically on man overboard drills. After a classroom session at the Haines School, participants will practice what they learned at the Haines pool.

“It’s probably the most difficult drill that you can conduct. It’s not as easy as it seems,” Morris said.

Community education director and commercial fisherman John Hagen, who contacted AMSEA about holding a class here, said he asked the organization to stress man overboard drills. Two Haines commercial fishermen, Richard Boyce and Ted Lynch, died this last year after falling overboard while fishing.

“We had two man overboard deaths this summer, and I think it is important to try and have a revisitation to safety to help break some of the cowboy habits that we have,” Hagen said.

Hagen, who took the class in the 1990s when he was working as a deckhand on his father’s boat, said it changed how he thought about the safety equipment on the boat.

“Rather than cursing about all that gear – the survival suits, life jackets, flares – it was able to change my relationship with that stuff. I found myself being more attentive to the safety gear I had and maybe even having more than the bare minimum that is required,” Hagen said.

The Saturday and Sunday sessions are free to commercial fishermen due to grants from the state, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Cost to other participants is $175 and $115 for AMSEA members.

The sessions will cover, through hands-on drills as well as classroom instruction, cold water survival skills, flares and maydays, man overboard recovery, fire fighting, flooding control, immersion suits and personal flotation devices, life rafts, helicopter rescues, and abandon ship procedures.

“It’s a very intense course, and it’s fairly long. We stay busy. There’s lots of hands-on activity, which is good for adult learners,” Morris said.

The course meets the training requirements for commercial fishing vessels. To sign up or request more information, contact AMSEA at 907-747-3287 or at www.amsea.org.