The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) requires seafarers to complete certain training courses to work aboard ships. One of these mandatory courses is Personal Survival Techniques (PST), which teaches essential skills for survival at sea in case of ship abandonment or emergency. While PST certification is valid for 5 years, taking a pst refresher course periodically can provide substantial benefits for both seafarers and shipping companies. This article explores the key advantages of regularly refreshing PST skills and knowledge through supplementary training.
- Maintaining up-to-date PST competency
While the fundamental principles of personal survival do not drastically change, some specific recommendations and best practices are updated periodically. PST refresher courses incorporate the latest guidance on life-saving procedures, survival equipment, and emergency response protocol. By participating in these courses, seafarers can ensure their PST knowledge is fully up-to-date. Outdated information in an actual crisis situation could be life-threatening. Taking refresher training allows crews to refresh their memory and relearn details in a low-stress training environment.
- Correcting Knowledge Gaps Before Recertification
Even experienced seamen with considerable time at sea can develop gaps in knowledge over a 5-year certification period. Certain survival methods or steps may be rarely used or tested in real-life situations, causing memory lapses. A PST refresher course allows seafarers to identify and fill these gaps in a timely manner instead of cramming recertification training after 5 years. Prior review and practice strengthen competency so that crews enter high-stakes certification testing with confidence.
- Preparing physically for an emergency response
Surviving at sea after abandoning a ship requires both mental knowledge and physical ability. A PST refresher course incorporates practice donning immersion suits, testing life jackets, climbing aboard life rafts, directing fire hoses, and other simulations. This hands-on refreshment prepares seafarers both mentally and physically to execute emergency procedures, even after long periods without drills. Quick and competent execution can save lives in disastrous situations.
- Standardizing Crew Knowledge Across Vessels
On vessels with high turnover or multinational crews, periodic refresher training can raise and standardize PST knowledge levels across teams. With varying backgrounds, certain team members may be unfamiliar with particular survival methods or terminology used aboard that ship. Jointly participating in refreshers ensures all members have the same foundation of core competencies, critical for coordinated emergency response.
- Maintaining health and safety standards
Compliance with STCW requirements helps the industry maintain high standards for crew health and safety. Refreshing periodic training demonstrates a company’s commitment to responsible maritime practices and willingness to invest in employees. Completion certificates provide objective documentation that skills are continually maintained to required levels over time. This evidence of good practice improves regulatory and insurance risk profiles.
- Improving Passenger Confidence in Crews
For passenger vessels, visible ongoing crew training can provide tangible reassurance to travelers. Participation certificates posted onboard demonstrate that personnel recently refreshed emergency response skills and preparation. This promotes passenger confidence in the crew’s level of competency and readiness to respond effectively during a critical incident, a key priority for hospitality-focused operators.
Key Topics Covered in PST Refresher Training
To maximize training value for both seafarers and operators, PST refresher courses emphasize reviewing and strengthening competency across the following core areas:
- Utilizing Personal Flotation Devices
Correctly donning, activating, and employing personal flotation devices like life jackets and immersion suits can mean the difference between life and death during ship abandonment. Refreshers provide updated guidance on properly fitting and adjusting equipment for maximum effectiveness. Trainees also practice swimming and floating with these devices to refresh muscle memory.
- Boarding Life Rafts and Survival Crafts
Safely boarding buoyant survival vessels from the water is a crucial ability. Refreshers incorporate simulated practice launching and climbing aboard liferafts as teams. Strategies for countering capsizing risks are reviewed. Further, key steps for disembarking damaged ships onto tenders or lifeboats are refreshed.
- Employing Other Lifesaving Signals and Gear
Refreshers provide a hands-on review of various other emergency gear like flare guns, locater beacons, handheld radios, whistles, mirrors, dye markers, fishing kits, and manual pumps. Proper signaling and usage techniques are reinforced, so recently-trained procedures become instinctual during crises.
- Activating Damage Control Systems
Course participants review safe methods for employing onboard damage control systems to contain flooding or fires. This includes appropriate protocols for controlling valves, pumps, flooding sensors, fire dampers, and other emergency equipment. Responsibilities for early-stage incident response are clarified to avoid confusion during actual catastrophes onboard.
- Surviving Life Rafts and Rescue Scenarios
Ideally, after abandoning the ship, survivors will promptly board liferafts to await rescue. Refreshers cover recommended strategies for sustaining passengers while awaiting pickup. Topics span rationing food and water, administering first aid, maintaining morale, signaling rescuers, securing protective shelter, and other best practices gleaned from past incidents. A clear understanding of these protocols promotes survival.
- Additional Topic Coverage in Refresher Training
While PST refreshers emphasize hands-on practice with survival gear, most courses include supplementary instruction on related knowledge areas beneficial for emergency prevention and response. Common supplementary content areas include:
- Complying with Musters and Drills
All crew share responsibility for actively participating in mandated safety drills per maritime regulations. Refreshers underscore the duty each seafarer holds to promptly report to assigned muster stations during alarms. They also provide guidance on appropriately executing various emergency protocols as a coordinated team.
- Understanding Safety Management Standards
Companies implement onboard safety management systems per regulatory requirements. Refreshers analyze key components of these SMS procedures to promote comprehension of documentation, risk policies, training mandates, inspection norms, and other facets needing crew familiarity.
The maritime sector mandates recurring Personal Survival Techniques training to equip crews with essential competencies for responding appropriately during emergencies at sea and abandoning ships if necessary. To derive maximum value, seafarers can pursue supplemental pst refresher periodically between required certification renewals every 5 years. These courses reinforce perishable knowledge, fill experience gaps, physically prepare teams, standardize skills across crews, and demonstrate ongoing safety commitment to regulators. Both individuals and company management realize tangible benefits from sustaining high survival readiness. While core methodologies evolve gradually, supplementing conventions like STCW mandates with regular refreshers ensures maritime professionals maintain cutting-edge preparedness to respond decisively during the most challenging incidents. Proactively refreshing PST skills delivers substantial advantages for crew safety and operational resilience.