Sunday, 29 November 2015

A day on the lake - Part Two!


Hi everyone,

Posting an update on the rescue boat course yesterday.  Sorry it's taken a while: I was dead tired last night and today I spent a large whack of time revising with the road crash rescue manual.  Is SES taking over my life a bit?  Probably.  And I'm good with that.

Anyway, yesterday I was able to head over to the course a bit later than one normally would - herein one of the perks of it being based at the Tatura unit.  The morning session was initially theory based - what to do in the event of a capsize or a man overboard situation, or a fire on board.  Then, over to Waranga Basin.  This started out with the water search exercise - moving the two boats in line while scanning for 'debris' of a capsized fishing boat.  I was kind of pleased how much of the mapping and navigation training I'd retained.  I think it's fair to say, though, that hanging over all of us was the knowledge that later we'd all be going into the lake for capsize and casualty handling drills.

Well, this stage rolled around.  The task was to roll over a small tinny, and with two other crew members to right it and then for one of us to bale it while the others supported the bow and the stern while treading water.  Baling it was harder than it looked: just as you felt you were making headway, a gunwale would dip below the water and it filled right up again!

That's me in the boat - bale dammit bale!
Image from here

On the plus side, the lake wasn't actually freezing: just a little on the chilly side.  Happily lightweight uniforms dry quickly, and when we went in for lunch the sun was out so clothing could be dried pretty well.

My friends Maddie and Ross, drying out at lunch

I had one particular insight when it was my turn to be the casualty recovered from the water.  When you're scooped aboard on the stokes-litter, it's remarkable how helpless you feel.  You can't do much to help move yourself.  I was kind of struck by how reassuring it was, even then, to see above me the focussed 'game faces' of the two people lifting me out.  If a person were actually being rescued I can only imagine that feeling multiplied a couple of times over

The final assessment was quite straightforward: navigate across the lake and recover two barrels and bring them back, while also transporting a dummy casualty for part of the trip.  We all managed pretty well at that.  After we recovered the boats, we went back to the unit for the theory assessment which went smoothly.  I'm double happy to report that we all qualified!  Not gonna lie, I feel great about this.  It's great to have a skill that two years ago I'd neve have thought I'd possess!  I can tell you I gave the trainers raves in the course review.

Scanning my emails this morning, I had a decent reminder about why this sort of thing is important.  The flooding in Texas seems to be particularly bad and making life difficult for the good people of Dallas.

Flooding homes damage
Image from here

At the risk of being a bore, it's worth reiterating the guidance the State Emergency Service gives about floods, which can be boiled down to -
  • Stay Informed – monitor local conditions and be aware of the situation
  • Never drive, walk or ride through floodwater
  • Floodwater is toxic – never play or swim in floodwater
  • If you are likely to become isolated, make sure that you have enough food, water, medication and pet food, and be aware that you may need to live without power, water and sewerage
  • Raise belongings by placing them on tables, beds and benches, or move them to higher ground
  • Block toilets, household drains, sinks and plugs to stop sewerage backflow
In addition, the International Civil Defence Organization advises that -
  • Switch off electricity, gas and central heating.
  • Implement the measures planned for the immediate protection of people and the environment (if possible untie and set free animals from stables and other such buildings).
  • Do not cross flooded areas on foot or in a vehicle. If necessary secure yourself by holding onto ropes or cables.
  • Collaborate with public safety bodies and the services helping the homeless.
Image from here

The rest of the weekend has been good for me.  As I said above, I've been doing some road crash rescue revision today, and I also got out for a gentle run - my first in almost a fortnight.  Felt good I can tell you.  I'm really feeling positive for the week ahead.

Hope your weekends are or have been good.  And if you're reading this in Texas, I hope your feet are dry!

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