Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Energy Graduate: Taking the plunge for a new career

Everyone who wants to work offshore has to go through survival training. Pic: Kami Thomson
Everyone who wants to work offshore has to go through survival training. Pic: Kami Thomson

Whether they are trying to break into the industry or have been flying to rigs for years, one thing offshore workers seem to become nervous about is the safety exercises they need. Ross Davidson confronts his fear and goes through the helicopter training course to find out what is in store for anyone flying to a North Sea platform
As the helicopter goes into the water, it takes a huge effort to stop myself from panicking.

There is just enough time for one last breath before I am underwater and planning my escape to safety.

Briefings that went on for hours could not prepare me for the feeling of being trapped upside down in the helicopter fuselage, a feeling every offshore worker will recognise from their training.

My experience only lasted one day, but those who regularly fly to North Sea rigs must go through three days of training before they can make their first helicopter flight.

In that time, they learn how to get free of a sinking helicopter, how to tackle fires offshore, and how to escape from an emergency on an oil rig as part of their basic offshore safety induction and emergency training course (Bosiet).

By the time they step on to a helicopter for the first time, they know how to save their own life and the lives of others in almost any situation.

As for me, I felt tense before I even put on the bright yellow survival suit, designed to protect me from the freezing conditions in the North Sea if I am on a helicopter which has to ditch over the water.

Without it, I would only survive for a matter of minutes.

With that in mind, I try to keep myself calm as the helicopter is lowered into the pool and turned upside down. As I unbuckle myself from my seat and concentrate on taking deep breaths through my emergency breathing system, I fight my way out of the window and to the surface.

Moments later, my fellow trainees emerge and we are all safe.

As the adrenaline begins to wear off, however, you realise that, in the training scenarios at least, you always were safe.

Before escaping from the upturned, submerged fuselage, I had already practiced getting out of a ditched helicopter six times that day, so deep down I knew what I needed to do and when I needed to do it.

And if panic does set in? Along with me and my three fellow trainees, five instructors are on hand, closely watching our actions and reactions for any sign of stress, while there are other safety measures behind the scenes ready to kick in if something does go wrong.

Mike Raby, a survival and marine team leader at Petrofac Training Services, said anxiety was not unusual among the clients at the training provider’s facility, however.

He said that although the Bosiet course lasts three days and contains a lot of classroom learning as well, it is the helicopter underwater escape training (Huet) which plays on people’s minds.

Mr Raby, who has been involved in offshore training for eight years, said some oil and gas workers became nervous because of scare stories they had heard from colleagues or friends.

“There is anxiety associated with doing anything new, and that is a fairly common thing no matter what you are doing,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that there are a lot of misconceptions and inaccurate information about survival training, and that plays a big part in building up people’s nerves.”

Mr Raby said clients may also feel pressure to complete the course at the first attempt because of fear for their job or employment prospects, but said Petrofac offered delegates the chance to go back at a later date for free if they do not complete the training first time around.

“You can understand why people think it is not the most pleasant of experiences, so there are things we do to help reduce people’s anxiety,” he said.

Mr Raby said that despite initial hesitance in some cases, most trainees grow into the training – and may even enjoy it.

He said: “It is so far outwith anything most people have done before, but we provide a very controlled environment with a strong focus on safety.

“We get a lot of feedback from people not expecting to take any pleasure from it, but who do find that they actually enjoyed it.”

Recommended for you


More from Energy Voice

Latest Posts