I couldn’t feel my legs anymore when one of the instructors yelled for us to get ready for the individual winching exercise. A rescue harness would be dropped, and we would take turn to be winched up using a crane as if it was attached to a helicopter during sea rescue. The waves made the task of putting the winch harness on a pain in the rear end. I had to gulp a lot of water as a part of it got stuck on to the back of my life jacket. When all was properly donned, I gave the signal to the winch operator to lift me up. “Yoweee” the jerk of the belt on my back and the stress of being winched up made my lower body tensed and I felt a jolt in between my crotch >_< . “Relax, loosen your leg. Biar je winch tu carry you, sakit sekejap je. Kalau dekat laut, this is between life and death”.
“Ok now bukak harness tu get ready for the next session”, said one of the facilitators. I couldn’t recognize which one. “Ok walk off the edge again, and then swim to that toppled life raft, use the technique that you learned and get it back up right”. It was easy but you’d have to be ready to swim away when the bottom of the life raft fell over onto you, if not you’d be caught under and that would add to the unnecessary panic and tension. I pulled hard and managed to kick away from the falling bottom of the boat. The rescue diver nearby gave me a thumb up. That was a refreshing remark.
“Okeh dah tau macam mana kan? Pergi berenang dekat survival circle yang member kamu dah formed”. Grrr they were quite far and I could feel the fatigue creeping in and the waves…. -.- .
“Now, the last session for today except those guys from the heli company, we will practice to get on board of a life raft and we will paddle from this side to the other side. Time given is 30 secs. Group 1 go!” Phew, my group managed to complete it within the given time. Those who failed were told to repeat the exercise. At the end of it, our coveralls were sticking to our bodies and revealed our shapes, LOL. I think I was prolly the only one laughing at it. It didn’t really matter, we were tired as heck and in real life situation your body shape is the last thing that you would care about. 1st thing? Staying alive.
“Ok, peserta lain boleh dismiss, yang datang for HUET (Helicopter Underwater Evacuation Training) please move to the to the other side and if you cannot swim take the white helmet, if you can, put on the black”. Protip: From my cousin who attended the same training before, just say that you don’t know how to swim because if anything happens, you will be their first target to be rescued. Plus if you are tired, you can cheat a little. “Eh tadi awak bukan main berenang, sekarang dah tak reti?” asked one of the divers. “Penat buat saya tak reti bang”, I answered. “Saya betul tak reti berenang ni, tarik la saya pegi dummy heli tu”, I said when one of them gave me that skeptical look. Haha, pemalas. “Ok relax, lembutkan badan masa I tarik you” one answered whilst dragging me in the water. Rasa macam anak patung.
In the dummy helicopter, there were enough seats for the four of us. Once inside, there was one senior guy who looked like in his 40s wearing short tights and started yelling instructions at us. “DON’T PANIC!” . We were told to buckle our seat belts and tightened them up as if we were really really in a real helicopter. We were reminded on how to use the Emergency Breathing System (EBS).
EBS: Before the helicopter is fully submerged, the user will take in one deep breath and blow the air out into his EBS. When the user is underwater, he will use the air that he kept in the EBS to breath whilst looking for the way out. Fact: We do not fully use all the oxygen we breath in, in one inhalation. If you are calm and can control your breathing, you should be able to breath using the EBS for 2 mins++. Breathing using the EBS is achieved via the mouth, not the nose. Macam orang hisap gam bak kat instructornye.
“Ok ingat, bila pilot announced ready for ditching, check yourself for sharp object, check your belt buckle, brace yourselves for the impact! READY???”
“READY FOR DITCHING!”
and the dummy heli was lowered down. When the water reached waist level, I took one deep breath and blew all the air in my lungs into the EBS. The pressure on the chest started to tickle my panic button, it was exciting and scary at the same time! Then the helicopter stopped, and we unbuckled and swam our way out. “That was kinda easy”, I thought to myself. Not for my friend, he panicked and totally forgot how to breath through his mouth, he had to hold his breath and and when he emerged, his face was pale and he was mumbling incoherently. “Relax, relax bro, cuba bernafas ikut mulut sekarang, ok?” said one of the rescue divers.
“Ok, kali ni, heli ni akan diterbalikkan. Remember don’t unbuckle until dia dah stop rotating! Bila dia rotate 1 hand on the wall, 1 hand on your belt buckle” reminder after reminder.
“READY FOR DITCHING!”
Submerged. And the heli began to rotate. I was startled by the change and unbuckled early! “Oh shizz, I don’t wanna fail this!” I hook both of my feet to the feet of the seat that I was on so that I would look like as if I was hanging upside down even though I’ve already unbuckled my seatbelt. The reason we were told not to unbuckle was because so that we didn’t get disorientate when the heli was upside down. When you are disorientated, you wouldn’t know which way is up and which way is down. When the heli stopped rotating, I swam out. Again, my friend panicked but this time he managed to breath using the EBS but he used the furthest exit from his seat instead of the nearby pushable window.
3rd time. Same thing. No mistake this time.
4th time. I was tired. My mind was calmed by my tiredness. I decided to do it slowly. That was when a surge of thoughts invaded my brain. As the heli was rotating in the water, I had these thoughts:
What if I were to be in a heli that was doomed (this word is heavy) to fail?
a) Have I been good enough to people?
b) Have I told my loved ones that I care for them so much?
c) Have I shown my appreciation to those who made me a better person?
d) Have my loved ones got enough of my physical presence?
e) Have I done enough for my loved ones?
f) Am I happy with who I am? and loads of other thoughts. But most revolved around my desire to make sure that the people that I cared for would at least get an idea that they were always on my mind and in my heart despite the emotion that I would show. I was the last person to emerge from the submerged dummy and the rescue divers gave me a thumbs up. I grab hold of the rescue float and one of the divers dragged me to the nearest ladder. I was spent and yet I couldn’t stop thinking. “Apahal termenung bro?” the instructor asked me. I just shake my head. I’ve decided I have to let the people that I cared for know what they meant to me, just in case if I wasn’t meant to be on this Earth for long. Who knows?