Distress or urgency
Anyone who is in an emergency should not waste time and call for help with all means available. Legally, there are two types of emergency. In an emergency at sea, there is extreme danger to life and limb of the crew. Without outside help, the crew can no longer free themselves from their plight. Those who can still help themselves are not in distress! Urgency means that the ship or crew needs help, for example from a doctor. Immediate aid from other ships, as is practiced without restriction in the event of a sea emergency, is not required. In contrast to distress at sea, operations of this kind are usually chargeable.
Emergency call via VHF radio / telephone
Please always find out about the current emergency numbers for the individual countries before starting a tour. If you are still within range of the telephone network, you can also make an emergency call via mobile phone. Remember that a cell phone at sea (except for satellite phones) has a very limited range of uses. One is quickly isolated from the outside world. In the interests of your own safety, a VHF radio should be on board. Emergency calls can be made from any location. Communication from ship to ship can also be very helpful in an emergency. Another advantage: when the transmission button is pressed, the rescue teams can “take a bearing” on the boat and thus determine the position.
Sending a radio message
To avoid loss of time and misunderstandings, the following procedure should be followed correctly when making an emergency call:
Select the highest transmission power on the radio
· Press the radio button, speak slowly and clearly
· Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. Here is … (give name of boat and call sign)
· Mayday. Here is … (state the name of the boat and call sign again)
· My position is … (indicate longitude and latitude)
· State the type of emergency
· Get immediate help
Bearing sign (press the talk button twice, 10 to 15 seconds each time, with a 3-second pause in between)
DSC – Digital Selective Calling
The “digital selective call” on VHF channel 70 is part of the global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS). A DSC distress alert notifies all ships and coastal radio stations equipped with DSC that are within radio range. A DSC-capable VHF system and a recognized GMDSS marine radio certificate are required to participate in this system.
In addition to telephone, VHF radio and DSC, other distress signals can save lives. These include emergency radio beacons, red parachute flares, flares with a red star, orange smoke signals, bang signals at intervals of about one minute, SOS through light or sound signals, emergency signals N + C of the International Signal Book (flag signal) and slowly raising and lowering the outstretched arms.