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Evaluation of a community-based emergency training program for commercial fishermen.

Lincoln-J; Perkins-R; Conway-G
Injury Prevention and Control, 6th World Conference, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, May 12-15, 2002. Montréal: Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 2002 May; :366-367
Working conditions in the Alaska commercial fishing industry are very hazardous and factors associated with commercial fishing deaths are complex. Fishing gear type, fatigue, and environmental conditions contribute to the severity and frequency of these incidents. However, from 1990-1999, due to new regulations and concerted efforts by government and industry groups, Alaska experienced a 61 % decline in commercial fishing deaths. This has been due largely to reducing deaths after an event has occurred, by fishermen being able to stay afloat and warm using immersion suits and life rafts, and by being able to locate them through electronic position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs). This emergency gear has been a requirement of the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act (CFNSA). The CFNSA also requires that fishermen conduct emergency drills on their boats, and that the person conducting the drill be certified to do so. The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) provides US Coast Guard (USCG) approved drills training for fishermen. AMSEA's goal is to reduce loss of life and injury due to hypothermia and drowning in cold water environments, through public education and training. To date, more than 4,000 fishermen have participated in the Marine Survival, Equipment, Procedures and Onboard Drills Course. This is a hands-on training course that combines didactic and in-water training to demonstrate this equipment during the course. Topics covered in the course include: life-raft and EPIRB deployment and maintenance, making emergency mayday caIls, immersion suit usage and maintenance, conducting emergency drills, and cold water survival skills. In 1995, a study was published examining the effectiveness of this training. The study showed that from 1991-1994 this course had an effect in reducing drowning among commercial fishermen in Alaska (p=0.034) (Perkins, 1995). We now have data from 1991-1999 to update this study. There were 660 fishermen involved in 234 seperate incidents. Of these, 66 were fatal events and 168 were non-fatal. Eleven of the fatal events had an AMSEA-trained person onboard and 44 of the non-fatal incidents had a trained person onboard. We were able to show that training is effectibe (p>0.05) in saving lives if the event occurs within five years if training. But we could not show an effect if the training to incident time period was greater then five yrs. Based of the results of this study, more frequent drills training may be needed to maintain training effectiveness.
Fishing-industry; Training; Accident-prevention; Accident-statistics; Accident-analysis; Accident-rates; Accidents; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries
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Injury Prevention and Control, 6th World Conference, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, May 12-15, 2002