By Paul Brodeur, Marine Division Director
Keeping riders and crew safe is Job 1 for us here at King County Water Taxi, so when a national organization recognizes one of our team member’s efforts, we humbly accept the accolades.
Ron Panzero, Operations and Maintenance Manager for the Marine Division, was awarded the Roger Murphy National Marine Safety Award, for his work to improve safety by demonstrating, enhancing and contributing to the Water Taxi’s overall safety efforts.
He received the award Tuesday at MariTrends 2017, the Passenger Vessel Association’s (PVA) Annual Convention held this year in Seattle. The organization is dedicated to serving as the voice of the passenger vessel industry.
Panzero’s efforts covered three basic areas: safety, security and training. Here’s why he won:
- Safety: In 2015, Panzero organized a monthly Safety and Green-Team Committee that included crew, engineers, shoreside staff and managers. The committee discusses Water Taxi safety and environmental issues, reviews any accidents or injuries and identifies how to prevent them from happening again. The crew-led group also proactively addresses workplace safety items. The results? In 2016, there were no crew injuries that required lost time and only two minor passenger injuries (even as the Water Taxi saw a record 601,942 boardings in the same year).
- Security: Over the last several years, Panzero helped orchestrate several multi-agency exercises using the Water Taxi, as well as high-speed law enforcement vessels and helicopters. The exercises included coordination with several Puget Sound vessel operators and law enforcement: U.S. Coast Guard, King County Sheriff’s Marine Unit, Seattle Police, Bainbridge Island Police, U.S. Customs & Border Patrol, etc. The results? Panzero’s coordination helped make our region better prepared to respond to emergencies on the water.
- Training: When the Water Taxi received its newest vessel – the Doc Maynard – in 2015, it opened up a new chapter that required additional training and familiarization. Panzero organized an exercise in April 2016 for the deployment of a 100-person emergency life raft (aka an Inflatable Buoyant Apparatus, a.k.a., or an IBA in the maritime world) that is essential in a major maritime emergency. Most crew had never seen one inflated (and thankfully have never had to), which created a great learning opportunity. The exercise took place on the Lake Washington Ship Canal and involved regional commercial operators Argosy and Victoria Clipper, as well as students from Seattle Maritime Academy who roleplayed as evacuees. The results? Thanks to this training, the crew is better prepared and informed, and the upcoming generation of mariners got their feet wet in terms of training (see what we did there?).
- PVA also recognized Panzero for organizing King County’s water taxis to scope out alternate dock locations as part of the Evergreen Quake Emergency Evacuation Drill, which took place on Vashon Island in 2016. Crew members roleplayed as victims during the emergency exercise, and emergency responders on Vashon Island practiced evacuating injured personnel. Exercises such as this are important in preparing for natural disasters.
After receiving the award, Panzero – who has nearly 30 years working in the passenger ferry industry and has been with King County since 2010 – gave most of the credit to the Water Taxi crew and the rest of King County DOT’s Marine Division.
“While I was humbled and pleased to be recognized, I accept this award on behalf of the entire King County Marine Division,” he said.
Congratulations, Ron. Thank you for your contributions to make the Water Taxi’s riders, crew and the Puget Sound region safer on the water!