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Training Report - How to run engaging first aid training onboard

2 July 2020

Following our initial report last week on running engaging fire drills on board, we continue our training report series written by our Director of Deck Training, Rod Hatch, who provides some interesting ways to spice up First Aid drills on board.

How to spice up First Aid drills? 

The creativity and artistic skills required by crew to make theme nights a charter success can also be applied to training in disaster preparedness. While basic drills are fundamental to effective emergency responses, embodying some drill aspects into a theatrical scenario that could actually happen adds a new level of teamwork. To create an engaging first aid drill, follow the steps below:

  • Assemble the crew, except one stewardess who has been temporarily detached for “special duties”. 

  • Inform the rest that they are now on charter, in St. Tropez, with very high profile guests on board. 

  • The captain, for purposes of this scenario, is ashore visiting the port office, with his radio and phone left on deck. 

  • All the guests are ashore, except the wife of the principal charterer, who is lounging on the sun deck.  

  • Somebody needs to go up and check if she needs anything. By now, crew are wondering what this is all about. Then – HORROR! Whoever went up to the sundeck calls on the radio –“Guest accident at foot of sundeck steps”. 

  • Crew go up to find the charterer's wife (special duties stewardess) in a contorted position at the base of the sundeck stairs, her head on her beach towel which is covered in blood (theatrical or ketchup). 

  • The Captain is nowhere to be found, so who takes charge? What needs to be done? How are tasks allocated? 

  • Then her husband (Captain who has quickly changed into civvies) comes bounding up waving a shopping bag and calling out for his wife to come and see her present. He spots the victim and goes crazy, yelling and threatening everybody with lawsuits, and interfering with the first-aid responders. 

  • How is he controlled and ushered away? What actions are taken by the crew? Who communicates what, to whom and how?  

  • This sort of scenario could conceivably happen in real life, and again the debriefing will bring up some very useful observations and lessons to be applied.

By giving crew (single or in pairs) the opportunity to create, write and direct any type of scenario which can be worked into the routine drill schedules, will help buy them into these drills and practices. They will become more capable and confident in their safety roles and will start to develop their own leadership skills. The foregoing examples are intended to stimulate crew to produce their own scenarios so as to maintain a high level of interest and involvement in safety drills.

We will follow up next week with some ideas on preparing for annual audits and surveys, including specific chart exercises.

Rodney A. Hatch - Director for Deck Training

Rod hails from Southampton. His connection to the sea goes back to early memories of the city skyline being dominated by the last generation of the great trans-Atlantic liners, and when the the only yachts on the River Hamble were wooden ones, sympathetic neighbours of one of the last wooden hulks from the Royal Navy's Napoleonic wars.

After graduating from Sheffield University, and prior to actually running away to sea, he was a Lecturer in Economics and Liberal Studies at South Bank Polytechnic, London. His yachting career and commercial sea time span over fifty years, and he is still active as a Relief Captain.

From its shores to its inland hills, Rod embraces the Mediterranean littoral, with special affection for the ancient magic of the Greek islands, the glories of Renaissance Italy, France for the historic ties with England, and every vineyard along the way.

Rod can be reached at

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