Circumpolar safety, search and rescue collaboration - Cold water effects on humans


  • 15:30 FEATURED TALK: Peripheral Cold Water Exposure and Manual Performance
    Authors: Heather Carnahan ( Marine Institute ); Matthew Ray ( Marine Institute )

    Cold exposure has the potential to limit an individual’s ability to perform occupational and survival skills in the cold ocean environment due to impairments in tactile sensitivity, grip strength and dexterity. Developing an understanding of how cold exposure impacts manual performance is critical for the safety and efficiency of those working in cold ocean environments. Depending on the time of the year and the geographical location, cold ocean temperatures hover around 0°C, despite this reality research is rarely carried out using water this cold. To develop evidence based occupational time management practices it is imperative to understand how long individuals can maintain hand function after being exposed to extremely cold water. We investigated the length of time that tactile sensitivity and fine manual dexterity could be maintained following exposure to 2°C water. Participants immersed their hands in 2°C water and fine manual dexterity and tactile sensitivity were assessed every 30 s until index finger temperatures dropped below 8°C (skin temperature associated with severe impairments in hand function). After 90 s of cold water exposure tactile sensitivity and fine manual dexterity showed impairments and after 120 s index finger temperatures dropped below 8°C and severe deficits in tactile sensitivity and fine manual dexterity were observed. This finding can be used to inform performance criteria (i.e. critical manual tasks should be performed < than two minutes) and occupational time management practices. An additional concern for those working in the cold ocean environment is that they are exposed to both cold and moisture. The slipperiness caused by moisture may add to the impairments caused by cold due to the fact that cold impairs tactile sensitivity and tactile sensitivity is critical for grasp maintenance. A second study was conducted to help understand how the combined effect of cold and moisture impacts manual performance. Individuals performed tests of tactile sensitivity and manipulative ability with thermoneutral dry hands, thermoneutral wet hands, cold dry hands, and cold wet hands. The results showed that the additive effect of cold and moisture was greater than cold or moisture alone and that intrinsic object properties have the potential to reduce the combined effect of cold and moisture to that of cold alone. This findings highlights the fact that solutions for working in the cold ocean environment need to focus on reducing the impact of both cold and moisture on manual performance.

  • 16:00 Leadership and competence in a survival situation - experiences of a "survivor"
    Authors: Jan Erik Jensen ( Petroleum Safety Authority ); Knut Espen Solberg ( University of Stavanger, GMC Maritime AS ); Sigurd Robert Jacobsen ( Petroleum Safety Authority )

    SARex I and II were rescue exercises carried out by industry, regulators and academia north of Spitzbergen during spring of 2016 and 2017, respectively. The Norwegian Coast Guard, University of Stavanger and GMC, Stavanger organized the exercises. The experiences from participation in an exercise in the Arctic through SARex I and II have given valuable experiences relevant from a regulator’s point of view.

    Firstly, the importance of testing the viability of new regulatory requirements and secondly the dependence of leadership and competence enabling group survival and the use of cold climate survival equipment. This article will focus on the latter.

    There are many heroic accounts of sealers and fishermen being stranded in their rescue crafts for prolonged periods. Knowledge and equipment have been key factors for their survival. Technology related to Arctic survival equipment has evolved and improvements made. We raise the question: to what extent has the importance of leadership skills and ability to utilize this equipment been considered in order to ensure survival for prolonged periods in a cold marine environment?

    The regulations governing the Norwegian offshore oil and gas industry are mostly functional requirements. The Petroleum Safety Authority found it important to participate in SARex I and II to better understand the factors enabling success in a cold climate survival situation.

    The survival tests in lifeboats and liferafts during SARex I and II, showed the necessity of having a trained and competent leadership onboard. This issue has perhaps been neglected compared to development of equipment to avoid hypothermia, where technology has made considerable progress. Some key factors for survival success were: 

    • Maintaining warmth and mental awareness and motivation.
    • Operating the rescue craft at sea, watch routines, operating hatches/venting routines.
    • Organizing water and food rations.
    • Organizing and teaching the function of various safety equipment onboard the rescue craft.

    The rescue craft leader used effective techniques to engage the survivors onboard the liferaft, e.g. giving each individual responsibilities and tasks. He also ensured mental awareness by creating activities throughout the time onboard.

    Overall learning from SARex I and II is that survival is dependent on active participation from the survivors. That means that there needs to be sufficient competence amongst survivors to micro-manage all the details required for survival. The mental factors following fatigue and seasickness, in addition to hypothermia, make leadership and competence in cold maritime climate essential for survival.

Science Science

Tuesday 23rd January 2018

15:30 - 16:15

Scandic Ishavshotel Panorama

Add to Calendar 2018-01-23 15:30 2018-01-23 16:15 Europe/Oslo Circumpolar safety, search and rescue collaboration - Cold water effects on humans Scandic Ishavshotel Panorama

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