Coast Guard partners hold safety workshop for local fishermen

by Seaman Sabrina Elgammal

More than 30 commercial fishermen spent the day in New Bedford, Mass., learning vital safety and survival techniques during the Fishing Vessel Safety Training Seminar at the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology Friday.

Coast Guard Fishing Vessel Safety Examiners, the School for Marine Science and Technology, New Directions Southcoast, Inc., and the City of New Bedford’s harbor development division hosted the training, which was geared toward damage control, firefighting, preventative measures for hypothermia, and survival techniques such as properly donning survival suits, activating emergency position indicating radio beacons, entering life rafts in the water, and using flares.

“It’s important to know that during most search and rescue cases, fishermen are going to be first on scene,” said Rodney Avila, a Coast Guard certified fishing vessel safety instructor. “They need to know how to control the situation until the Coast Guard or another agency arrives on scene.”

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

A small vessel 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.

Brian Rose of Plymouth, Mass., who received this training in April of 2007 saved the lives of two complete strangers in June of 2007.

“It was like the whole training seminar was rushing through my head as I was pulling both people out of the water,” said Rose. “I come back every year to remind fishermen how important this training is and how it prepares you for the uncertainties of life out to sea.”

“In order to make an income, fisherman are faced with difficult situations year round.” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Oliveira, from Marine Safety Detachment, New Bedford, Mass. “This training ensures they will be prepared to tackle any dilemmas they are faced with.”

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