DAN Medical Frequently Asked Questions

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Passenger Safety Orientation

Once all the passengers have arrived, boarded, and stowed their gear and personal effects, the captain or first mate will gather the entire group and present the required Passenger Safety Orientation, also known as the Boat Safety Briefing. This orientation is a requirement on all vessels for the safety of both passengers and crew.

The airline industry ensures that all passengers get a safety briefing before the plane can take off. So as not to leave out important information, the flight attendant will read the safety information from a cue card. Some have it memorized. Many airlines also have the entire safety briefing available on video or audio in multiple languages, guaranteeing that no part is omitted. Airlines do this for a reason: They want us to know what to do in an emergency and how to prevent us taking action that will harm ourselves or other passengers.

ad:media]Dive boats are a little different than airlines in that they do not have the support of a large corporate entity. To that end, briefings may sometimes be inconsistent. An important goal of the DAN On-Board program is that you know the general safety information necessary before you board a dive boat. This information will augment and support the specific safety briefing of each vessel you board. Note that the Passenger Safety Orientation is different from the Dive Briefing, which will be discussed in the next module.
The Passenger Safety Orientation will introduce and explain the following items:
  • Location of emergency exits and how they open
  • Survival craft embarkation areas
  • Ring life buoys
  • Life jackets — locations and how stowed
  • Proper method of donning and adjusting life jackets of the type(s) carried on the vessel, including a demonstration of the proper donning of a life jacket.
  • Location of the instruction placards for life jackets and other lifesaving devices
  • Instruction that all passengers will be required to don life jackets when possible hazardous conditions exist, as directed by the master

In addition to the USCG requirements, many Passenger Safety Orientations will include the location and operation of fire extinguishers. Also included are "don't do" items, such as no smoking, no walking around the sides of the boat while it's under way, no entry to the wheelhouse while docking or anchoring, and other items to ensure safety. There will also be instructions on which areas of the boat are off limits to passengers. These may include engine and compressor areas, the galley, and crew quarters.

On small vessels, it is common for the captain to ask passengers to be aware of their surroundings and report to the captain anything they see that looks like it could be dangerous. Many orientations will include a very detailed instruction on how to use the showers and the marine head. The head or toilet on a boat can be quite finicky and will make for an unhappy crew when broken.

MAN OVERBOARD (MOB) is a serious incident on a boat. The orientation will include instructions on what to do if you witness a MOB. Briefly, if you witness a MOB you should immediately shout "MAN OVERBOARD" and point to the MOB, never losing sight of the MOB. If possible, throw a life-saving ring or cushion to the MOB. Even if it cannot be thrown far, it is something the MOB can swim to while help is being organized.

On smaller vessels, many orientations will include how to use the marine radio in the event of an emergency. In most areas, Channel 16 is the regular emergency channel to hail help on. It is important that should you need to use the radio in an emergency that you know the name of the boat, your approximate location, and what the problem is.

Medical emergencies can occur on dive vessels including everything from cuts, scrapes, and falls to medical incidents such as heart attacks and strokes. Serious diving accidents can include decompression sickness, gas embolism, oxygen toxicity, and other barotraumas. The Passenger Safety Orientation will include what emergency equipment is on board, such as the DAN Oxygen Unit, the DAN First Aid Kit and the DAN AED.

A Passenger Safety Orientation is a critical part of boat safety. Pay attention to the details of these orientations as they are intended to help prevent accidents and ensure a safe, enjoyable voyage. We will discuss the management of accidents and incidents in another module.

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