Freezing cold water, large waves and heavy rain were among the challenges faced by 16 fishermen who took part in a two-day event at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) HQ in Poole, Dorset last week.
The 16 fishermen from across the UK and Ireland took part in the event at the RNLI College, where a series of exercises were run in the lifesaving charity’s sea survival pool, to improve survival techniques and recovery procedures.
Using the charity’s unique pool ensured that the RNLI’s Fishing Safety team were able to create real-life sea conditions to ensure the fishermen were fully aware of the dangers and challenges of man overboard situations. The pool – which is used to train the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crew members – features realistic seawater temperatures and can replicate artificial waves, as well as simulating rain and wind conditions.
The two-day event put the fishermen through a variety of different scenarios, allowing them to experience a taste of cold water shock in a safe and controlled environment. The participants were able to compare the differences of being in the water with and without floatation devices, and wearing their normal fishing clothing. They also practiced recovering a man overboard during the event.
In addition, representatives from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and Portsmouth University gave presentations about the effects of cold water shock.
Frankie Horne, RNLI Fishing Safety Manager, said: ‘We ran this event to show fishermen exactly what it would be like to fall overboard. Using our sea survival pool meant the fishermen experienced the same cold water temperatures that they could face if they really fell overboard at sea.
‘In giving these fishermen a taste of the potentially deadly impact that cold water shock can have in debilitating the body, we hope that they’ll be more likely to wear their personal floatation devices at sea to increase their chance of survival if they do fall overboard.
‘The fishermen were able to see just how vital personal floatation devices are, enabling them to stay afloat and alive in the sea long enough for a rescue to take place.’
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