Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Getting out of Deep Water

Whilst the rest of the world discusses whether the Greek people should have a referendum, the European Parliament has been closed for bank holidays.

I spent Monday and Tuesday with members of the Army, Navy and RAF training program in Cornwall teaching future pilots the basics of survival should they ever have to land at sea. This was part of the Armed Forces Parliament Scheme which aims to help politicians to have a slightly better understanding of the military. Most of the days I have spent with them have been "briefings" so this was a bit different.

The equipment is basic but it would save lives if disaster was to occur, and all the trainees were keen to know how to use it well. The first day was lectures and a pool trial. The second day was repeating the same at sea - we were all much better the second time despite the much more difficult conditions.

The final exercise involved being sent off the end of a boat to swim to an upside down life raft, right it and then make the raft "safe" and secure, send out signals to help rescuers find the raft and eventually be rescued.

The trainees were extremely brave, despite many of them not having a great deal of experience of the sea. My trainee partner got tangled in some loose ribbing whilst performing the exercise. I gave some suggestions of how to prevent this, which the trainers have promised to look into.... though I was worried by the chain of bureaucracy that I may have set off. I was very surprised that there was little comment from trainees on how to make improvements to their equipment.

Despite having done a bit of offshore sailing in my past I had never thought about how exactly one activates a distress flare. Its not as simple as it says on the packet - so it was definitely helpful to be allowed to try one out..

I have been given a little eyeopener into how important time in training is. Thank you.

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