Monday, September 9, 2013

West Coast Tour - On-The-Water Safety Protocol from Oracle's Doctor Lee and Star World's Captain Zimm

by Kate Sheahan
West Coast Tour Coordinator

Morning visit to Pier 80

“We are trying to look at sailing from a different perspective; we are trying to look at sailing as a more intense sport…[for the AC racing] you are dealing with six to eleven people on a boat that have to be ready for any situation.” Dr. Lee of Oracle Team USA

I recently sat down with Dr. Arnold Lee, Oracle’s team physician, who is trying to create a safer sailing experience on the water with a better safety protocol management system in the event that there is any on-water incident. The medical kits he has developed live on the
chase boats and are ready to go at any time. No they are not filled with superhuman agility vitamins or Incredible Hulk grip paste, but are essentially based on Red Cross med kits with modifications specific to the sport such as security and water-resistance. Working with some members of the Navy and Coast Guard was helpful in developing what Dr. Lee calls an intermediate level trauma kit. CPR and First Aid training and refreshers have been going for Oracle Team USA, and should be a reminder to us all to renew on a yearly basis. Listen to excerpts of my conversations with Dr. Lee about Oracle's safety protocol on the water below.
Go to to learn where you can sign up in your neighborhood.

During the Star Worlds in San Diego last week, Captain Louie Zimm reiterated a few major reminders for all of us involved in boating - a conversation sparked by a morning MMSi distress call without an ID or GPS location. There was essentially no possible way for us, nor the Coast Guard, to locate this vessel.

Your VHF radio equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is the single most important piece of safety equipment you can have on board your vessel. DSC allows the radio to transfer information digitally, not just by voice, and to instantly send a digital distress alert to the Coast Guard. Part of that alert is a nine-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number that identifies your boat. The MMSI number is a bit like a phone number for your boat, and all DSC capable equipment (including AIS units) associated with the specific vessel should use the same MMSI number, since the MMSI serves to identify the vessel, not the equipment. If you sell your boat, the MMSI number is normally transferred with it. If you have a radio on your boat make sure you have synced it to a GPS and have an MMSI identification number. Also know that you can always go to radio channel 16 to contact the Coast Guard for medical emergencies. 
Whether it is an afternoon High School sailing practice 50 yards from a dock, a World Championship regatta, or an afternoon of fishing with your children, know how you are going to communicate that you need help from the water before you get on it. Listen to excerpts of my conversations with Dr. Lee and Captain Louie about creating better safety protocol on the water.
Follow the West Coast Tour on Facebook and Twitter at @USSailing as I speak with competitor's at the Star Worlds and visit the San Francisco Maritime National Park - the best place for America's Cup viewing and legendary stories.

Inside the Oracle Team USA Base...

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