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What is the Survival Suit Designed to Do, and Will it Work for Me in the Event of a Ditching or Ship Abandonment?

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Three hundred and fifty seven people attended a series of practical survival courses at Survival Systems Ltd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia between January and June, 2001. Each of the attendees earns their living either working on, or flying over water. During the courses, they wore a variety of survival suits a helicopter passenger suit a marine, one-size-fits-all ship abandonment suit or a military constant wear survival suit. At the beginning and the end of the course, a questionnaire was administered to enquire about a the reasons for wearing such a suit, b the ergonomics of the suit, and c how much confidence they had that the suit would do its job in the case of ship abandonment or helicopter ditching. Pre-course, little was known about the four stages of immersion, but the anecdotal evidence that there was general dissatisfaction with the suits was not generally borne out by the results. Water integrity was better than expected this can be attributed to better manufacturing procedures, fabrics and standards. An interesting finding was that those people with small wrists or wearing a suit with slack fit of the wrist seal, benefited from tightening the seal with duct tape. The opinions on the ergonomics of the suits followed a normal distribution curve, with the majority of people expressing a relatively good opinion. Most people had confidence that they would survive in them. Post course, the degree of knowledge of the dangers of sudden cold water immersion had improved, but will require re-testing at a later date to investigate the retention factor.

Subject Categories:

  • Protective Equipment
  • Escape, Rescue and Survival

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