Whew………..That was one long week! It all started on Sunday night when I was gathering my things for a week of training in Basic Safety Training. At first I thought just a couple of sneezes, maybe some dust, but no worries. Woke up Monday just a head cold, sneezing, snotty nose, etc. I started pounding water and kept at it all week.
When I signed up for the course, I knew I had already committed to conduct tuna fishing seminars at the Seattle International Boat Show at 6 on Mon, 5 on Tues and 4 on Wed. I talked with the folks at Compass Courses and they were very help full and accomodating to make everything work. Monday was classroom courses in personal safety, survival, etc. I left the course at 4:40 for a 20 mile drive to boat show only to get jammed in heavy traffic. I made it to the seminar just as they were announcing the 6pm seminars over the loudspeakers. 44 People attended the seminar even though I felt like an auctioneer. My tuna seminar is usually 2 – 2.5 hours in length. At the boat show I have to be done in 50 minutes. As soon as the seminar was over, I scooted home for a quick bite, shower and early bed.
Tuesday we studied more safety, social responsibilities etc and then moved to the Shoreline Pool after lunch to don our survival suits, work in teams to gather all survivors, and right a turned over life raft. After we put away the survival suits, we treaded water and tried several different styles of PFD’s (life vests) and spent time maintaining body heat, and making ourselves more visible in a search. I left the pool and made the boat show with about 30 minutes to spare. 18 People made the seminar.
Wednesday was fire fighting classroom training with topics like the fire triangle, extinguishers, halon and co2 systems, etc. The instructor for the day was Kim Cunningham from Triton Marine Training. Kim is a firefighter / EMT and also specializes in maritime training for several large Washington based companies. Her knowledge and training was excellent. I had to leave a touch early to make it to my Wednesday Boat Show Seminar and Kim helped make sure I had taken my test in time. 55 people showed to the seminar on Wed. and was standing room only. Since I finished early, I raced home for dinner and quick to bed.
Thursday I was out the door at 0600 to drive to North Bend, WA to the Washing State Fire Training Academy. The academy is really about 10 0r 15 miles East of North Bend, but I left plenty early and still arrived early. This is where fire fighters from around the region train for live fire emergencies. They have some of the most realistic training scenarios I’ve seen and is one of only two training facilities in the US that use real fuel / oil fires vs. propane fires. We started in the classroom signing away our lives and indemnifying everyone at the school including the dog and mail man. We got a very detailed lesson on the use of the SCBA equipment we would be using and then headed to the training course.
On the course, we donned our bunker gear, SCBA, boots etc and started by putting out fuel fires with extinguishers, fuel fires with co2, advancing in groups with high velocity spray and extinguishers all the time while getting used to the breathing apparatus. I can tell you this one truth: This big boy burns air much faster than the little guys. I changed out my tank before lunch, while the rest did it the second half of the day.
After lunch, we headed into the live indoor fire scenarios where they first built a class A fire out of pallets in the end of a 40 steel shipping container. We all climbed in the other end of the container as they closed the doors to allow for the build up of heat. Let me tell you this second truth: This big boy does not like heat in a container! The 10-15 minutes we were in there seemed like hours and I had to pee bad. Of course we were crouched on the floor to avoid the most heat and made me even more uncomfortable. Remember when I told you I had switched my air bottle out before lunch and everyone else after lunch? Yep I was the guy with low air (again) and my alarm bell started ringing while in the hot container. I knew that it would probably happen so I made sure to get all of my nozzle time and lessons completed before everyone else, so I could spend the rest of time as close to the door as possible. When the bell started ringing, Tony to the instructor, said “you’re good” and kept on giving the lesson. Of course he knew how much was left of the lesson and that we would be done in time, but I didn’t know that and was ready to bust the door down as the needle got closer and closer to zero. To Recap: Firefighters can keep their heat! I hope I never have a fire on a vessel!
After the heat evolution, it was time for our group’s search training. I started this with a full bottle! We broke into four man teams and one of our four was the team leader. The instructors taught us about different search tactics and how easy it was to get disoriented. We headed into another container that was connected with several other containers in a series of rooms, passageways, bulkheads, hatches, etc. They were all filled with smoke and totally dark inside. Just like you may find on a real vessel filled with smoke. Our team entered doing a right wall search. The first right door we came to led to a room that turned out to be a dead end. I was in the #4 position, so when the search team reversed, I was then leading. We found another right hand door and continued to search. I came to a set of stairs and started climbing and soon found a victim. Our team pulled the victim down and we retraced our path as best we could. We made it to the exit and I had plenty of air! I like air. While our team was debriefing about our search, we could hear another team inside totally lost, their air bell alarms ringing and our instructor said they will be exiting the wrong door. Soon they came out and had left their victim inside. They had made it to a passageway and got plugged up and ran low on air. A decision was made to leave the victim and save the team. Even though we weren’t part of their team or search, we still learned a good lesson from it. To Recap: I hope I never have a fire on a vessel! Home for some grub, a shower and deep sleep.
Friday was CPR / First Aid at the classroom. Even though I had these courses three years ago, much has changed and even more has been forgotten. It was good to get the latest and some information relating to the maritime world. There are no doctors at sea and help can be hours or days away.
This was a very informative week and great training. If you need BST, think of Compass Courses in Edmonds, WA. Passed the tests, then headed home, caught one of my wife’s new dinners she’s been making off of Pinterest and crashed out. Good Week!
Next week: Lifeboatman courses!