Vital instruction

How WesCom Signal and Rescue is training the industry with world-class animations and assets globally

Safety is of paramount importance at all times. This is the ethos of WesCom Signal and Rescue, and with advances in technology combined with an increasing demand for better quality training and resources within its industry, the brand continues to research and develop the world’s leading marine distress signals and introduce a new era of dedicated training assets.

As the company that produces the world leading brands of Comet and Pains Wessex, WesCom Signal and Rescue has been a leading supplier of marine distress signals for over 100 years. During this time, the company has developed and delivered millions of life-saving products to distributors and commercial vessels around the world, as well as designing a range of bespoke training programmes for its trusted partners to ensure safety on board.

It is essential that comprehensive training is provided for all crew members on board, covering all eventualities that could occur at sea. This ensures everyone knows what they should be doing, what equipment they have access to and most importantly, how to use the safety equipment should it be required. This is as important as having the correct safety equipment on board – because without training, the safety equipment will be less effective or potentially no use at all.

Good quality safety equipment can only ever be as good as the person using it. A ship can be fitted with the world’s leading brands of pyrotechnics, electronics and communication equipment, but if the team doesn’t know how to use it or what each product does, then it becomes redundant. Therefore, the safety training provided needs to be of the highest standard and as comprehensive as possible, giving crew the tools they need to be able to use the equipment properly and safely under pressure in an emergency situation.

WesCom Signal and Rescue recognises the importance and value of training and wellbeing on board a commercial vessel at sea. The company fully supports the shift in the number of training courses offered, the production of training materials and assets, and the training facilities available around the world. It is a positive step forward, as ship owners and operators understand the real value of their staff and how their competence, experience and wellbeing contributes to the overall effectiveness, safety and ultimately, the profitability of a ship.

To support the industry’s focus on training, WesCom Signal and Rescue offers leading class training and assets to enhance already-established training facilities. It has provided more than 1000 dummy products and created detailed animations and guidance materials for over 120 training establishments in the last 12 months alone. The safety brand has also worked closely with Survitec Viscom to develop a series of training animations for its branded SOLAS and non SOLAS products. The animations will assist maritime training establishments with classroom training by offering an alternative information source, as well as assisting with the increasingly popular method of web-based courses. They can also be included within ships’ digital training manuals on board and offer a highly effective method of teaching compared to traditional pictorial training manuals.

The animations are being trialled with the RNLI, being accessed by more than 6000 volunteer crews as part of their initial and ongoing training. The benefits of using animations for training means that money is saved for the charity and there is a dramatic reduction in the need for live firing – which ensures a much safer environment, without compromising the efficiency of the training whether delivered in the classroom or online.

Allen Stevens, Senior Engineer (Maritime Safety) for the RNLI says: “Developed with real world experience, WesCom’s innovative animations have become invaluable for our training programmes. Our crew training continues to improve with the use of these assets – largely due to their realism and detailed explanations. By working so closely with WesCom, we have been able to provide live feedback and analysis, which has resulted in the development of these animations and them being subsequently integrated into our training programmes.”

Due to this positive feedback, WesCom Signal and Rescue has continued to seed these training animations and supplies to many of its distributors and partners around the world, including the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM), the Merchant Navy and Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering at Solent University.

Charity organisations within the industry, such as the Sailors’ Society, are actively campaigning to educate ship operators, owners and influential industry personnel to understand what real life is like on board a ship and what training, re-training and support is needed. The wellbeing of seafarers is of vital importance and it is a shared responsibility to ensure they have the understanding, skills and tools required to be fully prepared at sea, as well as the space to talk confidently about any worries they may have.

These organisations have identified a trend in the higher levels of safety and wellbeing support provided, the better overall health of their staff, as well as their productivity, efficiency and happiness on board, which ultimately leads to a smoother running of the vessel and improved profit margins overall.

Technology is improving all the time and at WesCom Signal and Rescue, the development of electronic alternatives is being closely monitored through its membership of industry bodies. However, despite these product improvements, nothing can take the place of marine pyrotechnics as there isn’t a single system or device that replaces the specific function of marine distress flares, making them a necessity for vessels all over the world.

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