The life raft
Experiences gained from a life raft exercise
Within the framework of the EU project Small Craft Emergency Response and Survival
Training for Arctic Conditions (SMACS) a unique 30 hour exercise in collaboration between
Chalmers and the Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS) was held. On May 26, 2014 the
exercise was commenced in an area northwest of Gothenburg. Here 11 participants got to
experience, as realistically as possible, an emergency situation at sea and to see which
elements of risk that exists. On board the life raft, only the equipment and emergency supplies
that life rafts must contain under the current regulations was allowed. This study documents
the participants’ feelings, perceptions and experiences with the ambition to thereby draw
conclusions that can benefit the design of future education and exercises in the field of
The method used was grounded theory based on semi-structured interviews with six of the 11
participants. The interviews were then transcribed and coded in a computer program designed
for analysis of qualitative data.
The most common risks addressed in the current literature relating to survival at sea, and also
the risks that were most anticipated by the participants, were not a major factor in this
exercise. Instead, the participants experienced problems with space in the life raft and
difficulties to urinate. In one case the problems where so serious that the participant had to
end its participation. The other participants managed to successfully complete the exercise,
most of them without major impact on either their physical or mental condition. The reason
for this success can be summarized in success factors including but not limited to: high level
of knowledge, high motivation, good cooperation and good leadership. The absence of the
stress that comes with a real emergency situation was most likely also a factor to why the
participants were relatively unaffected.
The study came to be a lot about the stressors impact on the individual and how this affected
the perceived realism.
The study is written in Swedish.
Project image by Jeff Flindt
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Who is behind the project?
Both of the authors are Master Mariner student att Chalmers Gothenburg.
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