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International cooperation

The international project ‘OnBoard-Med - Harmonization of on Board Medical Treatment, Occupational Safety and Emergency Skills in Baltic Sea Shipping’ concluded after four years on 31 March. The project was initiated to develop and coordinate vocational education programmes, to improve medical treatment, emergency assistance and occupational safety skills in Baltic Sea shipping, and to develop cross-border cooperation among medical institutions and maritime authorities. Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) was represented in the project by the Department of Nursing and Midwifery.

From 5 to 8 March the higher education institutions from Finland, Latvia, Estonia and the Aland Islands which were participating in the project met at Turku University of Applied Sciences in Finland for the final seminar of the project Future Skills and on Board Training. This seminar dealt with the cooperation between and training of medical personnel and maritime specialists to provide medical assistance on board ships.

During the seminar industry professionals from Finland, Denmark and Norway shared their experience and offered their visions of the future of medical treatment. Due to the successful collaboration between Turku University of Applied Sciences, which lead the project, and the Latvian Maritime Academy students, lecturers and other interested parties could also participate in the final seminar online.

The agenda of the final face-to-face meeting of the OnBoard-Med project partners included intensive work in three working groups: emergency management, medical care, occupational safety on board. The groups were assigned to develop nine vocational education study courses, and to create the content, learning materials and long-distance learning tools for each of them. Participants discussed current challenges and possible solutions in their face-to-face meetings and participated in simulations of the study courses which had already been developed.

Maritime transport in the Baltic Sea Region provides international employment opportunities both on shore and on board ships. This gives rise to the necessity for a streamlined international education programme on emergency skills. Presently variations in results as well as the fact that there is no common approach to training is a problem across the Baltic Sea Region. These deficiencies affect employment as well as safety. As shipping has become multi-national problems in the education system cannot always be resolved on a national level - an international approach is required to develop suitable solutions. The objective of the international OnBoard-Med project was to develop aligned vocational education programmes in the Baltic Sea Region. This has now been achieved thanks to the close cooperation between the higher education institutions participating in this project.

Nine vocational study programmes were designed during the project. The programmes were aimed at developing medical treatment, emergency assistance, the occupational safety skills of medical personnel, and the education of ship nurses, navigation and engineering personnel. The courses have been designed and implemented in the form of e-learning which includes self-testing, video materials, course materials and presentations. As a result of the project its participants have acquired excellent professional skills that will boost their competitiveness on the European and international labour market.

The international project took place from 1 September 2016 to 31 March 2019 as a joint venture between Turku University of Applied Sciences, Aland University of Applied Sciences, the Estonian Nautical School, Rīga Stradinš University and the Latvian Maritime Academy. The project was funded by the EU Interreg Central Baltic programme 2014-2020.

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