I have been putting off taking the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET) because of pure fear, since it includes the Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET), which basically means simulating how to escape from a helicopter that has crashed into the sea and capsized under water. I have heard stories from my colleagues who have taken the BOSIET and received mixed reviews – from those who say it was terrifying to those who say it’s pretty easy. Last week, I experienced it for myself.
Taking the BOSIET is required before I can go to the Malampaya offshore gas platform, since the primary mode of transporting people to the platform is via helicopter. Safety training such as the BOSIET is important to prepare people like me who work in the Upstream Oil and Gas industry on the proper response in the event of an emergency. Such preparation can save one’s life.
Our three-day BOSIET training had modules on:
1. Basic Firefighting — this included going through a pitch black confined space with artificial smoke while wearing a full-face mask and blindfolded, as well as handling different types of fire extinguishers – containing water, foam or chemical extinguishers;
2. HUET — this included learning how to use a rebreather apparatus, where your only source of emergency oxygen while submerged under water is the 30-seconds worth you breathe out into an air bag, while you are turned upside down and try to push your way out of the capsized helicopter’s window, struggling out of your seat belt, and swimming out for dear life to the surface for an unlimited breath of air (the fear of being trapped in a sinking chopper, losing my breath and dying was very real to me at that moment when I was doing the exercise);
3. Sea Survival – We learned techniques to conserve body heat while floating out on sea and waiting for rescue; we also learned the unique features of a marine life raft (both the inflatable one and the fully enclosed hard shell life boat) – it was all very “Life of Pi” for us, learning how to use personal locator devices, signal flares, sea biscuits as food provision, rain water collector pouches, etc. etc.
4. Basic First Aid (particularly CPR) – From watching all those Baywatch episodes (yes, shows my age!) of mouth-to-mouth resuscitations of unconscious victims, I’ve always thought CPR was a complicated procedure. It is a bit detailed counting the number of chest compressions that need to be done in a minute, but knowing what to do to help a person in a life and death situation is a kind of priceless knowledge.
I consider my BOSIET batchmates my blood siblings, as what we went through was no easy thing. It’s like being on the reality adventure series “Survivor” Philippines, minus the television cameras. I thank our trainers at IDESS Maritime Center not only for demonstrating their adept knowledge on the course modules but most of all for the extra care they gave each of us to ensure that we felt safe and secure throughout the exercises.
While I initially planned to join a training group where I knew no one (I felt it was less pressure that way!), my boss told me it would still be better to take the BOSIET with a friend to build that feeling of security and boost my morale. Well, I chose no better person to take the BOSIET with than my best friend at the office, Bestie Elaine (!!!), who never failed to chant, “You can do it, Bestie!”, “Great job, Bestie!”, and even “Think Lara Croft, Bestie!”, the entire time. We were both inwardly terrified, but we tried to stay as cheerful as we could and have fun, drawing strength from each other’s cowardliness (haha!). Our other batchmates were men, who were very helpful and nice, and probably found our unintended helplessness at times amusing.
It was also a bonus that we found a nice place to stay in during our three-day “Survival” adventure, the Kamana Sanctuary Resort and Spa. It was right beside our training center in Subic, which was located in the middle of the forest and beside the sea front. It was pleasant to be surrounded by the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind and the calm rolling of waves lulling us to sleep. Our BOSIET experience was definitely an adrenalin rushing adventure at daytime and a serene nature escape at night. Definitely one of my 2013 highlights!
My next adventure will be setting foot for the very first time on the Malampaya offshore gas platform in Palawan. Definitely looking forward to that one!
*Music credits: “Elesi” by Rivermaya, “Feel This Moment” by Pitbull Ft. Christina Aguilera and “Raise Your Glass” by Michelle Chamuel