New Bedford fishermen take part in vital safety training

WOODS HOLE, Mass. – More than 50 commercial fishermen spent the day in New Bedford, Mass., learning vital safety and survival techniques during the annual Fishing Vessel Safety Training Seminar at the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology today.

The Coast Guard, the University of Massachusetts, New Bedford New Direction, Inc., and the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership hosted the training, which was geared toward damage control, firefighting, first aid and CPR, and survival techniques such as properly donning survival suits, activating emergency position indicating radio beacons, entering life rafts, and using flares.

“It’s important to know that during most search and rescue cases, fishermen are going to be first on scene,” said Lt. Charles Fluke, supervisor, Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment New Bedford. “They need to be prepared to help each other until the Coast Guard or another agency arrives.”

During the seminar, the fishermen were placed into five separate working groups, each spending roughly 50 minutes performing hands-on training.

A training simulator used in the damage control segment allowed the fishermen to practice plugging and patching damaged pipes and hoses, which, in some cases, may be the sole cause of a vessel sinking. Additionally, Coast Guard members demonstrated how to set up and operate gas powered de-watering pumps.

The firefighting segment demonstrated the critical first steps in fighting a shipboard fire, including the proper use of a fire extinguisher. Fishermen were also taught what information is most helpful to rescuers when placing a distress call.

“Six people who survived when the fishing vessel Jacob Alan sank off the coast of Nantucket, Mass., last month credit their survival and rescue to similar training from previous years” said Fluke.

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