Wednesday, April 29, 2009

That Sinking Feeling

The tranquil surroundings of the training ground

" Intern will most likely be required to commute to our offshore facilities "

I was quite excited when I found out about this in my confirmation letter. After all, not everybody gets the chance to commute to an offshore platform in the middle of the sea.

The closest I have been to it is in PetroSains, but instead of fighting for tickets with hyperactive schoolkids for entry to the platform, this time I am going to the real thing.

And because of that, I need to clear 1 last hurdle before I am deem worthy.....the Basic Offshore Safety Emergency Training

The 3 day training is conducted at SMTC's training ground not far from our office. We get a rough idea of what to expect from our conversation with colleagues who had done it all before.

Of course, they told us it's going to be a fun & enjoyable ride. Yeah, right...

First thing that you will notice after stepping into the training ground is the large swimming pool. You see that 2 storey high platform in the pic, that's where we are supposed to jump from as part of the training.

But for the 1st day, we did not do any water related activities. Instead, we learn all about FIRE & FIREFIGHTING. For the practical training, each of us took turns to enter into a Smoke Room, which if you haven't realised already, is a room completely filled with smoke.

The Smoke Room is actually the little container
the helicopter

Don't be fooled by the small size of the room. It's very dark inside, you won't be able to see a thing. The trick here is to keep your right hand in constant contact with the wall & sooner or later you will reach the exit.

Then we moved on to extinguishing a fire with, well a fire extinguisher. This is the same thing a bomba will demonstrate to you during one of those dreaded fire drills. Somehow, I haven't tried doing it before because I was *cough* too shy to volunteer every time they came to my school.

There is no exception here though, so everybody has to do it ala Burning Flame.

On the 2nd day, we did our Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET). And yes, it is really as scary as it sounds.

For the HUET, we are supposed to use this thingy called the Emergency Breathing System (EBS). This thing is suppose to help us breathe 'normally' when we went underwater. We had to breathe through our mouth instead of nose, it is quite a challenge and definitely not 'normal'.

Now is a good time to start panicking

Then, we got into a fake helicopter & where they slowly dunk us into the water. Once the water reaches chest level, we all deployed our EBS. Before long the whole heli went underwater & PANIC kicks in!

I unbuckled my belts quicker than you can say 'Houdini' & immediately drag myself out of the damned thing thru the window.

Ever wonder what it feels like to be inside a spinning
washing machine?

It's very scary, more so for a non swimmer like me. I am not even using the EBS correctly, just virtually holding my breath & clinging on for dear life.

The worst part is we had to get back in for another 2 rounds. For the 2 rounds, the heli was capsizing & we were being turned upside down. It's even scarier as we remained underwater for a longer period of time.

Can't believe the company actually paid RM1000+ for us to undergo this kind of torture. It's like volunteering ourselves for waterboarding.

The whole heli sinks faster than the global economy

The 3rd & final day is also spent mostly in the pool. This time we had our lifejacket on & had to do all the survival techniques such as chain swimming, huddling & the survival circle. I actually enjoyed this part, with the lifejacket on you felt like you are lying on top of a giant water bed.

Doing the survival circle

And finally before we can get the safety endorsement, we had to jump from 8 metres into the pool! Suddenly the platform looks so much higher than the one I remember seeing during the 1st day.

Looking down to the wavy waters underneath will make you develop vertigo instantly. But there's no turning back from there.

When it's my turn to jump, I strode up to the platform & stood at the very edge of it. One hand covered my nose while another held on to my lifejacket. Then, I took 1 look below to make sure there's no obstacles. Took a step forward & just plunged downwards.

The most important thing here is to cross your legs, or else there will be no more happy hours for you according to my trainer.

With that, I concluded my BOSET Training. I got my safety endorsement, a certificate & a car sticker that reads...



Borneo Falcon said...

Some advice, if you jumped to the pool from the platform, don't jump with your leg wide apart

Iannn said...

Wow!!!!Seem like u hav fun!!!Bet that is a very satisfying at the end of it...

ericG said...

wow... I am also a non-swimmer. I guess i would have panic in that HUET thing and also the jumping-from-8m-platform. Nice adventure.

acura said...

Borneo Falson : Yeah, that's the most important tip of all. Imagine the pain of jumping off a 8m platfrom with ur legs apart haha

Iannn : Looking back it was quite an experience actually. Definitely satisfying when we got our certs but...the endorsement only lasts for 3 years. After that you'll need to go back & do a refresher.

ericG : Luckily, there are trained divers helping us once we got out. But I still drank alot of water in the process

Mrcoolku said...

Hey, ur internship is so damn interesting lei. Mine one is kanasai. Sit in office only. sad.

foongpc said...

Congrats for passing the training! I think it is very claustrophobic inside the helicopter submerged in water. Don't know if I can stand it!

Breathing using the mouth is definitely not normal. Did you swallow the water on your first try? Haha!

I think this training will be very challenging for me cos I'm a non swimmer too. Besides, I have a fear of heights and deep water!

Johnny Ong said...

in real life, that heli will go down faster than u cld imagine hehehehe

acura said...

Mrcoolku : The 3 training course is quite interesting but most of the time I am stuck in the office just like you. Bored & sleepy

foongpc : It's clautrophobic & I swallow chlorine flavoured water in every try.

If you are scare of heights, the trainer allows you to jump from the lower platform, but it's still 5 m high haha

Johnny ong : Okay, that is something I would rather not know or experience *touch wood*

BernardC said...

Since you don have a chatbox,
Legends come and legends go...Aryton Senna was certainly the greatest man in the sport along side Alain Prost. Most of us did not get a glimpse on F1 back then.

If only Senna not died, Schumacher may not been so dominant after all. Nevertheless, Schumacher was inspired by that lad.


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