In November 2022, the IMO MSC 106 approved circular MSC.1/Circ.1660 with a view to providing the guidance on the training on and operation of emergency personal radio devices (EPRDs) in multiple casualty situations.
The Guidance aims to minimize harm to search and rescue communications and operations by emergency personal radio devices (EPRDs) in multiple casualty situations.
According to IMO, crew should be aware of the following characteristics of emergency personal radio
- EPRDs generally transmit two different radio signals:1 an alerting signal either to trigger an alarm on a bridge or, alternatively, at a rescue coordination centre; and .2 a locating signal to help rescuers get within visual range;
- EPRDs should be worn or attached to a person in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidance;
- EPRDs may be armed to automatically activate (transmit) on immersion or manually activated;
- EPRDs commonly have indicators to show they are transmitting;
- most EPRDs require a clear line of sight to the sky because they fix their position from satellite signals;
- if the aerial is underwater, an EPRD cannot transmit or receive radio signals; and
- when many EPRDs are activated in the same area, they can prevent SAR services from using the locating signals effectively and harm on-scene radiocommunications by causing repeated audible alarms on older radio receivers.
Passengers on board should be briefed on the following aspects of the use of EPRDs during specific safety and emergency training:
#1 ship systems will make the necessary distress signals to initiate rescue action;
#2 an EPRD should never be activated except by a person in the water or on instruction from the ship’s crew;
#3 an active EPRD should be switched off as soon as the wearer is out of the water or out of immediate danger; and
#4 this information may be reinforced by signage at muster stations
#5 Persons with designated responsibility for the safety of persons in emergency situations should ensure EPRDs are not activated for persons getting into survival craft prior to deployment.
#6 Persons responsible for a survival craft, once deployed, should ensure that all EPRDs remain switched off for anyone aboard a survival craft, including persons recovered from the water. Where a survival craft has lost contact with other survival craft and is not equipped with an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or AIS search and rescue transmitter (AIS-SART), then an EPRD may be used to help locate the survival craft.
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