There’s also the rough, choppy seas to contend with, which requires close coordination between SCDF’s rescue vessel and the distressed vessel.
Confined Space Drill
If a casualty is hurt or unconscious in a confined space in a vessel, the SCDF officers have a specific set of protocols to evacuate the casualty in a safe manner.
During the drill on land, officers used a drain to simulate a confined space of a ship, such as an engine room below the deck level. Typically, four officers are required to conduct such a rescue operation.
Firstly, a tripod and pulley system were set up “on deck” for extrication of the casualty.
Donning their breathing apparatus, two officers descended to the confined space to locate the casualty. After securing the casualty to a stretcher specially used for confined space rescue, the stretcher was secured to the main line attached to the pulley system, so that officers on the surface could lift the casualty up.
While it might seem easy for officers to carry out the drills, the training is far from effortless – the dummy weighs a whopping 85kg, excluding other equipment like the firefighting gear and breathing apparatus, which makes up about an additional 20kg that officers must carry on top of their body weight.
Height Rescue Drill
The element of height comes into play for rescues at sea involving large vessels such as tankers and container ships, because casualties need to be lowered from the distressed vessel onto SCDF’s rescue vessels, according to Warrant Officer (WO) Chan Kim Mun, Deputy Rota Commander in the West Coast Marine Fire Station.
WO Chan has been in the SCDF for 16 years and oversees officers throughout the drill to guide them, as well as ensure officers’ safety.
In the land-based simulation for height rescues, officers used the side of the five-storey fire station building. In this scenario, the casualty has been extracted from the confined space and brought up to the main deck of the affected vessel for lowering to the SCDF rescue vessel.
The first step was to transfer the casualty to a basket stretcher and to secure the casualty to it. Then, the officers attached the belay line (red) and the main line (blue) to a holder, known as an artificial height directional (AHD), affixed to the overhead i-beam of the building.
Read Part 2.
16 June 2023