Monday, 20 July 2009

Gateway Training Week Four...

I can't believe Gateway has now ended. I am now in Oklahoma City visiting friends from the ship and arrived here last night. The last week of Gateway was the most intense physically with Basic Safety Training, which consisted of PSSR: Personal Safety/Social Responsibility, CPR/First-Aid, Firefighting and Personal Survival Training (At-Sea Survival)... It was really great learning the theory and practical aspects of the course, and we had written assessments and multiple-choice tests on each subject.

For me the highlight was the firefighting on Wednesday and Thursday. We had to don an SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) and be breathing the compressed air in under a minute and also get fully kitted out in bunker gear (firefighter's clothing) in under two minutes. Thursday morning was our firefighting practical. We went through various exercises including a search and rescue, using fire extinguishers on different types of fires, spraying hoses, and the final practical was entering a burning container with a hose and having to go in and aim the nozzle high at the deckhead above the flames and then retreat slowly. And always retreat walking backwards, so that you can always see the fire. This exercise was done in full SCBA kit and bunker gear, and it was extremely hot inside! The temperature inside the burning container was between 150 and 200 degrees Celcius. But everyone in the class was successful and it was a great bonding experience.

Friday was the water practical and we went to the pool at Tyler Junior College and that went really well. We started out by treading water for a minute, and then donning lifejackets and immersion suits, and finally clambering aboard a liferaft. We then got a chance to right the overturned raft. The evening ended with a lovely pizza dinner at CiCi's Pizza Place in Tyler, and it was here that we were each given our certificates for completing the BST course. And this is not just an add-on to Gateway. This is a highly recognised course that is accredited by the US Coast Guard and the certificate itself is valid for five years, for service onboard any IMO (International Maritime Organisation) or US ship.

So that was Basic Safety Training which concluded an amazing month of Gateway training. I was honoured and privileged to meet many wonderful people and I am looking forward to seeing them all in the near future onboard the M/V Africa Mercy. I hope to blog more tomorrow about our closing session of Gateway this past Saturday. But for now, from Oklahoma City, God bless!

Here are some more photos from the firefighting and water practicals - enjoy!


Water Survival!

With Captain Jon Fadely, head instructor of BST and head of Mercy Ships Marine Operations.

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