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Maritime First Responder Course

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 54 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 74-76,78-81,83
Bill Lindsey
Date Published
May 2006
8 pages
This article describes the Zodiac Maritime Academy's (ZMA's) training course for first responders to an emergency on water through the use of Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RIBs).
The course first focuses on the initial decision a marine response team must make, i.e., the risk associated with a specific mission. The course teaches the use of the GAR Risk Management Model in making this decision. The GAR Model's goal is to identify areas of extreme risk to the responders in advance of their deployment. The model involves scoring the mission according to risk. An unacceptably high GAR score suggests a decision not to undertake the mission. The second segment of the course addresses safety equipment and personal flotation devices (PFDs) or life jackets. In addition to hands-on demonstrations of various types of PFDs, instruction is given in the maintenance and rearming of CO2-powered PFDs. Students learn to choose appropriate safety gear for each mission. The course then turns to the water craft that will be used. Students are first instructed in the proper preparatory vessel inspection. Team members learn how to assess a vessel's readiness while becoming familiar with its features. The ZMA course uses RIBs, which can range in size from 12 feet to over 40 feet; however, the RIB used by most agencies is in the 25-foot range, powered by outboard engines or an inboard diesel engine. One of the strengths of a RIB is its inherent stability. The ZMA program gives students an opportunity to observe these boats in action and to operate them in a range of realistic scenarios. Over the 3 days of the course, participants spend the majority of the time on the water learning to operate RIBs.