On Board Emergency Procedures Planning and Crisis Management.

images (1)Every yacht out on the water today, regardless of size, ought to have a comprehensive set of procedures and plans to  address its unique requirements in the event of an emergency.
Of course, yachts of a certain size are required by law to have such a plan but the smaller yachts, even owner-operated yachts, should do the same. The plan should spell out how the crew will respond to different types of emergencies.
There are three primary responsibilities in developing emergency procedures, namely:-
  • To protect the lives of the crew, guests and others on board the yacht
  • To protect property
  • To minimize pollution
All of this comes together in an “Emergency Procedures Plan.”
The first step then is to figure out what emergency situations the vessel could possibly be faced with. Of course there are a number of factors to review and so preparing an Emergency Procedures Plan requires extensive research and teamwork. It involves not only in-depth knowledge of the vessel, but the topics such as geographical locations, crew knowledge and capabilities, emergency equipment and security, all require considerable consideration.
A thorough and well-designed emergency upload_5669a465c25b1_w600procedures plan then enables all to be prepared before a disaster occurs.
One person alone cannot create a comprehensive, well-conceived plan. It must be in cooperation with an Emergency Planning Team which should comprise of crew, the manager and owner, training and various safety officials such as Coastguard, Flag State Representatives and pertinent outside contractors who may have intimate knowledge of machinery and equipment that requires specialized training.
As we move up in size of the vessel, an Emergency Procedures Plan also includes an Emergency Management Team and an Emergency Response Team which actually sees the plan through to completion in an emergency situation. As the planning process progresses, the team will want to formulate an Emergency Procedures Manual which will be an important reference guide.
Preparing an Emergency Procedures Plan involves six steps:
  1. imagesDeveloping the emergency planning and management teams
  2. Identifying potential emergencies and the probabilities of their occurring
  3. Adopting preventive measures to avert emergencies
  4. Planning responses to specific types of emergencies
  5. Developing procedures for debriefing the Emergency Management Team and others involved after an incident
  6. Preparing for an emergency by rehearsing and testing the plan.
The plan should also address recovery from emergencies and an emergency response plan will not come into being overnight. Before a plan can be developed there must be an assessment of vulnerabilities and an evaluation of capabilities of the crew and vessel, and its equipment alike. This should include how to and how quickly first responders are likely to respond and any obstacles that may hinder a rapid response.
draft-clipart-8166539-draft-blue-grunge-stampThe plan will evolve through several drafts and reviews before it is printed and distributed. It will take time to to train the crew and personnel who will be responsible for implementing specific procedures in the event of an emergency. Also it may be necessary or desirable to coordinate your planning with outside emergency responders.
Once established, the plan should be reviewed periodically and updated as appropriate. Being prepared will facilitate a suitable response and make it easier to recover from an emergency, if not aid in avoiding  most emergency situations in the first place.
The nature of yachting also means there is a propensity to draw attention. Add in an emergency of sorts and more often than not, media coverage is probable. Being unprepared or having a crew member or guest saying the wrong thing, or the right thing at the wrong time in front of any audience could at minimum be an embarrassment to the owner. Other consequences would be far greater than that.
This then leads to a final set of necessary analytical and protective procedures.  Who will be the spokesperson? Is it the yachts SHU-55SHmanager, captain, or senior officer and what information, how soon and how often should the information be shared? How to control the flow of information out and the timeliness and sensitivity of information that must be shared is all extremely important?
Such  a comprehensive manual, when completed and complemented with  training and preparedness then moves the Emergency Plan a notch further to complete Crisis Management! Being prepared often means you will probably never experience anything resembling a crisis. Murphy’s Law is  waiting on the flip side however, and nobody wants to deal with him. So best prepare accordingly!
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