Saturday, July 18, 2009

Basic Safety Training

Our last week of Gateway was a U.S. Coast Guard program in Basic Safety Training. It included Personal Survival Techniques, First Aid and CPR, Basic Fire Fighting, and Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities. In other words, we are now at least academically prepared for whatever emergency ship life may throw at us...not that my certificate means you would want me to be your rescuer in an emergency. Ha! Now that would be scary!

A few pictures to walk you through the week...

Danae and I in full fire gear. I hated the masks because there was always a brief moment of panic when it didn't connect just right and your air supply was completely cut off. Not to mention we are suited up in the middle of a 100 degree Texas summer day.

Meet Buck. Buck is 160 lbs. of dead weight. We had to rescue him from a smoky room with no visibility. He got about three inches closer to safety with me. I need to work out.

Here I am fighting a class B liquid fire (aka gasoline) with an ABC dry chemical (aka multipurpose fire extinguisher).

This was the worst part of the whole drill. The trainers started a fire in the container below, and we had to go inside with one partner and control it with the fire hose. (We couldn't completely put it out because then there would be no fire for the next group.) The container was completely enclosed and therefore entirely filled with thick black smoke. The smoke you see billowing up in the picture is leaking through small cracks, not a large hole in the ceiling as it might seem. We couldn't see a thing in front of us, and the temperature of the smoke on the ceiling was estimated to be 800 degrees at one point. One member of our team stood up into the smoke and didn't have his face completely covered, and his face was actually blistered in a small area from the heat. I don't mean to be dramatic. I knew it wasn't really dangerous because our trainers were inside the container with us the whole time. However, I felt terrified and was so glad when the exercise was over. It takes a special calling to be a fire fighter. I don't know how they do it.

We did it!

Survival at Sea was much more fun. We got to practice "jumping ship" in an immersion suit. Look, it's the Mercy Ship Teletubbies!

Forming a human raft in our immersion suits.

This was my favorite part--flipping a 12-man life raft from an upside down position in the water. We had to climb on top of the raft, grab the ropes, flip the raft over on top of us, and swim out from underneath. We could either do it with a partner or by ourselves. I initially wanted to do it with a partner, but we both decided we wanted to see if we could do it on our own. Surprisingly, we did!

Basic Safety Training was intense and challenging. There were parts I absolutely hated and parts that I loved. Overall though, I definitely learned some basic concepts of how to handle a ship emergency. I'm glad that Mercy Ships takes the time to train every crew member with such an indepth program. It makes me feel much safer knowing I'll be with hundreds of people who have all been trained in not only how to handle a crisis, but also how to prevent one from happening. Hopefully, our prevention skills will be put to such good use that we'll never have to use the survival skills! :)

1 comment:

  1. Wow... you get an A+ for your show and tell blog of your training. The fire mask made me think of my anxiety with snorkeling.
    Great post.
    Love, Aunt Karen