Training looks different for each of the positions, as you can imagine we have everything from chefs to engineers. The one size fits all doesn’t really work in this case, as you might imagine. However, there was one training that the majority of us undertook and that was fire training! This wasn’t the sit in the classroom and try stay awake sort of training. This was the real deal. The biggest threat to Scott Base is a fire and we (the Scott Base staff) are the fire crew. How it works at Scott Base is we are split into watches and every three weeks your watch will be on fire duty, meaning that if there is a fire then the team rostered on will respond to it. So you can see why it is important for us to undergo such intensive training. This is probably the most full on week of training we do but it is so much fun. The amazing thing about this training is that the team that makes up the Scott Base staff come from such diverse backgrounds. Most of us have never put on a breathing apparatus or crawled through a smokey building but we all made it through the training. So a huge thank you to the New Zealand Fire Service, these guys never once made us feel unsafe and taught us so much!
So what did we actually get up to? Fire training involves many things. We started with the basics like how to unroll and roll up hoses, how to use a fire extinguisher and built up until we were wearing breathing apparatuses and entering rooms that had live fire in them. The old saying ‘a picture says a thousand words’ still rings as true as ever, so instead of describing each day I have put up the photos with small explanations below.
Day 1 was all about learning how fire behaves and then some practice putting out some fires in different scenarios. The first two smaller photos show our ‘helicopter’ (yes it’s a van with skids).
Day 2 was mostly learning how to use breathing apparatuses. Very weird the first time but you get use to it pretty quickly. This day we leant to get the set on and off and then did some confined space sort of stuff.
Day three was the most full on day of the week. We spent a lot of time in our breathing apparatus gear. We got to experience a live fire in a room and what happens when you give it more and less ventilation. We also did room searches in their flat set up which was smoke filled and lots lots more.
Day 4 was slightly less intense than day 3 to our relief. We saw how a chlorine bomb works (not one to try at home kids), practiced stretchering patients and got to play with chem hazard suits. The suits can be used if there is a chemical spill or dealing with sick patients that are potentially contagious.
The last day! We all now know our positions in the fire crew. I am an axillary, that means when the alarm first goes off me and my other axillary grab fire extinguishers and go investigate and see if we can put out the fire. If we can’t deal with the situation then the breathing apparatus team will be the next ones in. This day was filled with doing scenarios in our watches so we could get use to our positions and how to respond. It was a lot of fun.
Fire training isn’t our only training. For domestics, it’s a little lighter in training but we still have some stuff to do. One of the things we did was visit the recycling centre in Christchurch to see how the plant operates. It was a little disheartening to be honest. We learnt that any hard plastics aren’t recycled and neither is anything over 3L. We also learnt that anything in a plastics bag gets chucked. However, it does make us as domestics want to recycle properly. We also visited the university and talked with one of the scientists there about how our waste treatment plant works and the monitoring of surfaces etc on base. That is pretty much it before the ice. Once we are at base there is more training for the cold and fire training. So more on training later.