Yeah, sorry about that. I like to post articles with pictures but there wasn’t much that I could photograph today. I’d have been thrown out of the pool and put in the local newspaper had I photographed there, I’d have been thrown out of the exams (plus there’s not much to see), a picture of the smoke training would have been a grey square and the provider of the other training equipment (emergency exits) requested that photos weren’t taken.
The day started early, way to early considering the time the last one finished. We gathered at a local swimming pool and then went and got wet. The first exercise was to swim a length. No problem there. Then, slightly short of breath after swimming the length (I know, I need more exercise), we had to manually blow up the life jackets. Back in the pool we went to swim another length. Once that was completed, we had to jump into the pool with the life jacket on. Fortunately the instructor reminded us to cross our arms over the jacket to prevent it from smacking us in the face – I’m sure I wouldn’t have remembered otherwise! Then, I played dead and was dragged to the other end of the pool by one of the other cadets. Upon reaching the other end, I magically recovered and dragged the other cadet back who had passed out from dragging me.
Finally, the grand finale, the survival circle. The life jackets were deflated and then six of us went to the other end of the pool. The instructor threw in the deflated life jackets and then we swam up the pool to collect a jacket, put it on and inflate it. It’s not as easy as you think while you’re trying to tread water. To my great disappointment, this time round I got one of the life jackets that wouldn’t stay inflated (due to severe overuse, don’t worry!). When we were all (kind of) life jacketed up, we formed a tight circle intended to preserve body heat. The final part of this fine training was to sing a song. After much persuasion we burst into ‘Happy Birthday’ despite being instructed not to (they’re sick of it). A few words in we changed to ‘Jingle Bells’. I feel sorry for everyone who had to listen, especially the general public who were trying to enjoy a quiet swim. Still, I think it was better that the other groups rendition of ‘Old MacDonald’. Oh yeah, the reason we had to sing? Supposedly it was to ‘keep out spirits up.’ I suspect there was some other underlying reason such as a way to embarrass us!
I didn’t intend this post to be quite so long, the swimming was just that fun. Other training we received during the day included fire and smoke training, emergency exits and escape slides. I was so nervous about the smoke training! You had to go into a shipping container full of fake smoke, find the PBE (Protective Breathing Equipment), put it on and then exit the container. I couldn’t see a thing in there! Fortunately they showed us around beforehand to familiarise ourselves with the layout (since we would know the layout of our aircraft). I found the PBE and managed to make it out alive.
Way too much waffling (and brackets) I know. I do have to mention the slides before I finish. They are incredibly fun. The surface is made so that you go down very quick and then there is a grip pad at the bottom that slows you down just before you jump off the end. It was so fun that upon receiving the offer for another go down the slide before we did the final test of the day, I went straight back to the top of the slide. This proves that there is no such things as growing up, only growing old. If you get the chance, have a go, but don’t go pulling emergency exits to do so!