Meet OSCAR, the Water Rescue Training Dummy
"It's definitely eye-opening," says Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) instructor and US Coast Guard civilian commercial fishing vessel safety examiner Steve Kee. "It drives the point home that it's not easy to yank a crewmember back on board."
US Code of Federal Regulations 28.270 calls for those in charge of a commercial fishing vessel to conduct monthly safety drills to ensure everyone is familiar with their duties, including recovering someone from the water. Kee provides the 10- and 18-hour USCG-accepted drill conductor training to those who will oversee the monthly training sessions.
Atlantic Beach Rescue department chief Jonathan Kohan agrees. "From a command and control perspective, you want to train like you operate. It's hard to put rescuers in real time situations when they haven't trained in critical mass. It's very different than lifting a straw or Styrofoam dummy."
Situated on a barrier island, the small community of Atlantic Beach, N.Y., swells in the summer months to 15,000 people. Atlantic Beach Rescue is a first response agency with 38 volunteer rescuers. Its technical water team trains year-round.
OSCAR is a set of rugged vinyl bladders that when filled with fresh or seawater, realistically mimic the size, weight and jointed handling characteristics of a 6', 180 lb. adult. Fitted with a PFD or immersion suit, it imitates a lifeless MOB victim in every way. After use, it is drained and weighs a mere 35 lbs. It can even be disassembled for easy transport.