Commercial fishermen gain skills for sea survival at annual training

TENANTS HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - Fishing is one of the world's most dangerous jobs.

To help save lives and prevent injuries, a group from Massachusetts is on a mission to travel around New England and train commercial fisherman on what to do in emergencies.

They were in Tenants Harbor Thursday.

"Anything you can do to make it better and that much safer for anybody by being out here is totally worth it."

"We're giving them enough information to take back to their boat and share it with their shipmates, and then practice using it. Hopefully they are running the drills and using the equipment," said safety training director, Ed Dennehy.

Ed Dennehy and his crew from Fishing Partnership Support Services are serious about safety.

Each year they make a trip to Maine to conduct safety training courses for commercial fishermen. Their program addresses actions that are critical to surviving emergencies at sea.

On Thursday, two dozen fishermen took the day off from being on the water to attend the free training.

"A lot of people don't have the money or the time to do a training like this so they are not going to do it," explained fisherman, Tim Black of Tenants Harbor. "If it comes down to paying something else or this, they're going to pay for something else, and with them doing it for free these people we're able to get in here and do it and get the training they need."

They covered six major categories of training, everything from basic CPR and first aid to learning how to use immersion suits.

"We teach them how to get in the suit, get in the water, climb into a life raft. We have firefighters where we talk about the different types of fires, the different types of extinguishers, and we actually light a fire in a small pan and they use the extinguishers to put them out," said Dennehy.

Dennehy says they deal with plenty of fishermen across the region, and he believes they're starting to truly understand the importance of safety.

"Slowly but surely I think the culture is changing a little bit," explained Dennehy. "The old philosophy is that if it goes down I am going down with it and that's the way it is. But, it's very different these days, and especially for the younger folks getting into the business."

The training also serves a great purpose for first responders, too.

They respond to numerous calls out on the water, and it's important for them to know what gear the fishermen have on board in case of distress.

"When there are emergencies off the coast a lot of lobstermen or fishermen will actually man the boats and take us out there to them. So, learning their trade and how to walk around their boats helps us, and we show them a few things as well," said paramedic, Kevin Curry. "So, it's an important working together relationship."