Hi, I have always wondered where and when the crew are trained for all of the emergency situations that can arise while a ship is at sea. You had a post about when your ship lost power and I know it has happened to Carnival ships as well – can you please elaborate on the training process?
That’s a great question! It is very important that the crew are well trained for emergency situations because help is rarely close by unless something happens while the ship is docked in port. Depending on the position, crew are required to join the ship with certain safety certifications. As a Youth Staff member, I was required to obtain my CPR/First Aid prior to getting hired, and it was my responsibility to keep that up to date – re-certifying every two years.
Further to that though, there is a general “Basic Safety Training” course as they called it that every crew member was obliged to complete at some point during their first contract. This course lasted about 4 weeks, and was taught by the ship’s safety officer as well as other officers depending on the topic (firefighter, nurse, environmental officer). The majority was done in a classroom setting; however there were also practical portions as well, such as firefighting training for example.
Upon completion of the basic safety course, crew members were considered available to be assigned a safety card – which indicated their role in an emergency situation. Every crew member from the captain on down had a numbered safety card and a defined role. These rolls included but were not limited to muster station leaders/assistants, life boat operators, fire fighting team, wheelchair team, medical response team, etc. Depending on which role you were assigned, there was most likely an additional training session to get you familiar with the role. My role as a member of the youth team was to ensure than any children in our care were brought to the children’s muster station where their parents would be able to pick them up.
In order to make sure that everyone was comfortable with their roles and knew exactly what to do, the safety officer held weekly crew boat drills. Newer crew members who hadn’t yet been assigned a role, known as supernumeraries, held the highest numbered safety cards and just assembled at a muster station for crew. The safety officer would also frequently ask several supernumeraries to role play during boat drills. They would be given a sign to wear stating their age/gender and it would be up to the emergency response teams to assess the situation and handle it appropriately.
There are also usually fire drills, man overboard drills, pollution drills, or damage to ship drills that initiate the boat drill prior to the general alarm being sounded. As a passenger, you are unlikely to witness these drills as they are done when the ship is in port after the majority of the passenger have gotten off the ship.