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Helicopter crash training offered at North Van BCIT
Helicopters typically flip over after crashing in water, leaving panicked passengers frantically struggling to escape.
A bleak picture, but Chevron employees soon heading to work in the Arctic's oil and gas industry learned how to survive such a scenario at BCIT's Marine Campus in North Vancouver on July 18.
Wearing full orange buoyancy suits, participants were strapped into a machine that simulates a helicopter floating in water, and had to quickly escape from a small window after they were turned upside down.
The training exercises will increase the chances of survival for the men, who will be doing geo-seismic surveys in the Canadian Arctic.
"When you learn how to do something, say skiing, you have a memory of what to do, so it becomes your first reaction," Jonathan Chapple, manager of Aqua-Lung Canada, told The Outlook as the Chevron employees put on their required gear.
They have to wear small scuba-like equipment made by Aqua-Lung — known as helicopter underwater emergency breathing apparatuses — attached to their clothing at all times. The light-weight equipment provides them with just 30 seconds of air to make the quick escape.
"You can't hold your breath if you crash because you're panicked and have to focus on opening the door," explains Chapple, who also teaches survival techniques to the military.
The training is required by many companies working in the Arctic, but the emergency breathing equipment isn't required by law, he added.
A ship is leaving soon from Vancouver en route to the Arctic to bring people and supplies to the off-shore oil and gas platforms. The men will have to take a helicopter from the ship over large bodies of water to get to their work sites.
If their helicopter crashes, it will take approximately five seconds to completely fill with water. But the men would have to anxiously wait for it to flip upside down before they attempt to escape.
"We don't want them to panic and overreact, because it can be scary. It's good for them to experience this before, so they can practise in case it ever does happen," said John Stone, director of military and aviation training programs for Survival Systems Training, the company that puts on the courses.