It’s BOSIET time!

November 24, 2010

Today I learned a new dance move – it’s called the ‘get out of a pitch black smoke filled room safely and efficiently’ Chicago’s special.
It was kindly peformed by a very nice chap called Andy who was one of our instructors on Petans BOSIET course.
For those of you asking who’s Petans and what’s BOSIET…
Petans is, oddly, a charity which offers specialist training courses for offshore workers, mostly those in the oil and gas sectors but also renewables.
BOSIET is the basic offshore safety induction and emergency training course (lasting three days).
What was I doing on it? Good question. My big mouth telling the chaps at CLS Offshore in Great Yarmouth that I’d always fancied visiting a gas rig and them getting EEEGR’s John Best involved (East of England Energy Group).
Which meant doing an offshore medical (week or so ago) and this week the BOSIET.
It’s the course where you get dunked in a helicopter simulator, get to put fires out and feel your way out of the blacked out smoke filled room – which is where the dance moves come in.
There was some serious stuff (in fact it’s all pretty serious but fun nonetheless – unless you’re Andy having to do it day in day out).
In the classroom we had an overview of the industry (the oil’s up north and the gas is down here), the principles and reasons for some of the safety procedures (the likes of Piper Alpha) and the main hazards and issues (blow outs, H2S gas – horrible stuff -pipes and machinery, chemicals etc).
Then it was all the regulation to stop the above and first aid (with dummies Annie and Preston – he had flashing lights…).
And then the more fun stuff started (as long as you didn’t think too much about the real life situations these scenarious led to).
Petans, just north of Norwich airport, has a variety of simulators. One is part of a rig where you climb in to a TEMPSC (totally enclosed motor propelled survival craft). It’s orange (to be seen easily) but felt a lot like a mini-submarine inside. From the rig a winch lowered the raft into a pool then back up again. So there we go – controlled evacuation from a dying rig. There was another simulator of a helipad with a decommissioned chopper we climbed in to.
The main one people will have heard of is the pool with the helicopter module. We climb in in full immersion suits and life jackets we buckle ourselves in, get lowered into the water, take a breath, get fully submerged and then have to climb out.
This scenario gets repeated, each time a bit more difficult until the last one – the sixth (unless you get it wrong and have to do it again – a free ride) where you have to use a breathing system, are turned upside down with the unit and then have to unlock and push away a window and get out. It actually felt easier that it looked – if you did what they told you to do. Rule one – never take your hand off your exit.
The harder activity, for me, was working our way through the blacked out smokey building.
But that was because of the nasty horrible respiration hood thing we had to wear. I found it hard to breath through it, which made everything difficult.
And then on the last task, which saw one person lead three others through the building (including going up some stairs) I got taken from the back and put at the front!
This was where the disco dancing came in. A sweep round of the left foot of the floor you’re about to walk on followed by a sweep of a left hand to check the space you’re walk in to (head to nuts) was Andy’s strictly come dancing winning move (especially the comedy situation which saw it speeded up to get away from an abandoned colleague quick step pace). I’d buy him a drink to see him do that actually in a night club…
Once you got the hang of it, however, it made you feel more confident of moving forward – certainly more so than the alternative, stuttering forward with no co-ordination.
Then we got to put out fires – except the great fire ball that came out of the chip pan fire (not sure any of us were expecting that).
What did we learn? A heck of a lot. The above is scratching the surface of three days of constant information and training.
Who is responsible for your safety? You are.
When are you safe? Not until you get back to the beach (land).
When are you allowed to drink in the liferaft? After 24 hours.
How long does it take a liferaft to inflate? 60 seconds.
Muster points, PPE, everyone having responsibility to flag up safety issues, the permit to work system, PFEER fire regs, getting winched out of the water…
And I’ve not even mentioned some of the other people on the course from Mark, currently serving time and hoping to get back working offshore, to the marine who has reached the end of his service in the marines (23 years) and wants to move into marine security.
More, perhaps, for another day.
I will be writing a feature about this and other adventures I’ll be having as part of a series on the offshore sector, if you’re interested!

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