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Handling marina emergencies effectively

By Tom Mukamal

What do all marinas share in common? Power cables, gasoline, water, lots of people and a frequently aging infrastructure. Additionally, many marinas have coastal areas prone to natural disasters and most marinas are accessible by the public.

In short, we are all exposed to a broad and often unpredictable array of emergency situations. At IGY Marinas, we have dealt with natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods to man-made emergencies such as fuel spills and fires to a broad range of security breaches in fairly remote locations. No two have been the same. So, while the emergency spectrum varies, it’s vital to ensure that the proper measures and best practices are put in place to limit injury, property damage and reputational damage in the event of any marina incident.

What are your emergency response plans?

While all levels of staff – including marina employees, local authorities and vessel crew – undergo extensive emergency response training, it is important for team members not to forget their roles, responsibilities and standard protocols. Due to the fact that all parties train separately, it can be difficult to adequately prepare for contingencies that can occur in an emergency, thus providing opportunity for confusion. This is when developing written response plans and adhering to your designated emergency response plan is so crucial during a critical time.

From ensuring safety equipment is properly working to following your well-established checklist of rapid response procedures, it is important that your team remains focused on their specialized roles before, during and after an emergency event. Plans should be revisited frequently, in particular to adapt to the ever-changing nature of emergencies, including natural disasters, fires or security breaches. It is also a great idea to make investments in your marina personnel to get advanced training in fire safety, CPR, ISPS, conflict resolution and more. There are a host of live and online training courses, which are accessible and relatively inexpensive. Aside from providing opportunity for your staff, this type of advanced training can lower insurance premiums and provide carriers, lenders and partners alike with greater comfort.

Implementing theoretical drills

Once your team has developed a well-established emergency response plan, it is imperative that your marina ensures every party follows its designated training. A great way to achieve this is by frequently conducting theoretical drills, as they serve as great training methods for real-time situations. These unique programs provide incredible insight, immersing all teams in multiple emergency situations where you can review their actions collectively and evaluate key learnings and strategies for improvement. Teams cannot get complacent.

Improving communication

As a result of our industry being so niche, we have the luxury of establishing incredible relationships with vessel owners, captains and crew members. Engaging with them on a regular basis is important, as we can never stop learning and improving our operations. One unique way to do this is by holding multiple Captain’s Briefings throughout the year. Yacht Club at Isle de Sol and Yacht Haven Grand have seen great success with these special meetings, as it has allowed all parties – from marina staff to captains and crews – to share information in order to better define and better align on roles and responsibilities during emergency situations. Additionally, an active forum or blog can also serve as a means of communicating effectively, as it provides an ongoing discussion for success stories, new methods for rapid response actions and more.

Tom Mukamal serves as CEO of IGY Marinas. For more information on IGY Marinas or its collection of marina destinations, visit www.IGYMarinas.com.

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