- Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the US. Surveys of Dungeness crab fishermen suggested that emergency preparedness was viewed as important for element of staying safe while fishing. Basic community first aid classes were not relevant for commercial fishermen and they requested tailored training for their situations emergencies at sea.
In November 2016, we held two First Aid and Safety Training (FAST) courses for Commercial Fishermen, in Newport Astoria, Oregon. We targeted Dungeness crab fishermen before the 2016/17 crab season. Each class was limited to 20 participants, and included the following topic areas: CPR, assessment, wounds and burns, injuries, prevention, altered mental status, environmental injuries/illnesses, drowning, cardiorespiratory emergencies, and patient care. Both sessions were conducted by a senior instructor in wilderness medicine, integrating commercial crab fishermen-specific examples and scenarios for hands-on training.
Participants completed a first aid knowledge survey prior to and following FAST training, and provided FAST evaluations. Knowledge items included signs and symptoms of medical emergencies, as well as their appropriate treatment and prevention. Participants were also to evaluated the training, including whether they would recommend the training, how useful they found the training, suggestions for future first aid classes, and how effective they thought the training would be on the job.
Complete data on pre- and post-class knowledge were provided by 20 Astoria fishermen and 17 Newport fishermen. Overall, first aid knowledge increased substantially in both groups. In Newport, mean pre-class knowledge percentage correct was 49%, and rose to 87% post-class. In Astoria, mean pre-class knowledge percentage correct was 44%, and rose to 90% post-class. Overall, fishermen reported finding the material useful: on a 1-4 scale (1=very useful, 4=not at all useful), mean usefulness scores were 1.4 in Newport, and 1.3 in Astoria.
First aid training specifically tailored to commercial fishermen was well received, and was perceived to be very useful. These FAST classes have led to further development of the course material, including more scenario-based training, greater emphasis on prevention and safety, and refinement of presentations to emphasize fishing-specific examples.