Imagine the scenario. It’s the dead of night. A perfect storm is raging. You need an emergency evacuation from your offshore platform via lifeboat. Scary stuff. You couldn’t possibly train for these conditions. Well actually - you can.
Leading training provider, AIS Survivex has invested a six-figure-sum in the very latest lifeboat simulator technology to increase marine safety and boost competency so that lifeboat coxswains are fully prepared for any emergency, in any weather.
The simulators perfectly complement AIS Survivex’s existing marine offering, which includes a dedicated training facility on the river Dee in Aberdeen accredited by OPITO, STCW and RYA. This facility delivers a range of training including daily courses in Basic Offshore Lifeboat Coxswain Initial Training using industry-recognised equipment such as lifeboats and fast rescue crafts for the offshore and maritime sector.
AIS Survivex is the only UK training provider to offer practical OPITO-approved initial twin fall and free fall training in a ‘real life’ setting so adding the option for continual development through simulation-based assessment is another UK-first.
The simulators themselves are located in a dedicated simulator suite in pride of place behind the glass frontage of the AIS Survivex Dyce facility, where delegates can complete OPITO-approved Lifeboat Coxswain Further Training.
The cutting-edge kit is impressive. It includes three of the very latest, ultra-realistic lifeboat simulators. One free fall, one twin fall and an advanced coxswain mobile training simulator.
Feedback from the first delegates using the lifeboat simulators, confirms the quality of the training experience and its closeness to reality. “This is more realistic than the real thing”, said delegate, Mark McKenzie. (pull-out quote)
The comment comes as no surprise. These simulators are the very latest versions from Canadian manufacturers, Virtual Marine Technology (VMT), and feature ultra-realistic graphics and motion technology to recreate the feeling of being on a real lifeboat. It’s as close to real life as it gets.
The imposing free fall version sits on a motion bed towering 17 feet above the ground and is able to move in multiple positions similar to a simulated real life sea state. Wrap around 180-degree graphics add to the immersive experience of free-falling in a lifeboat from an offshore platform. A separate command centre mirrors the internal view and allows the instructor to monitor the delegate’s progress through the drills while staying in constant contact through embedded CCTV and radio functionality.
But one of the most significant benefits of lifeboat training and assessments using simulators is that delegates can experience and practice operations in all types of conditions. That’s because the simulators feature a wide variety of exercises to recreate every type of weather - from calm seas to the perfect storm - and can also switch between night time and daytime scenarios. This enables delegates to practise emergency escape and rescue scenarios in adverse weather and in the dark – situations which couldn’t be reasonably practised otherwise. It certainly wouldn’t be feasible to do this type of training in a practical setting. However, training for all eventualities like this builds competency and improves safety standards.
Marine Team Leader, George Masson, explains: “In high-risk industries like oil and gas, training for crisis situations is critical. Training people through engaging technology like simulation helps to improve the response to an emergency and ensures people make the right decisions with a cool head.
“The ability to use a simulator means more time can be spent on training and assessment. Practicing high risk operational scenarios such as emergency evacuation in the dark or rescues in really bad sea conditions is one of the most valuable tools of simulation. These events simply can’t be replicated in any other way and yet it is where competency can truly make a difference.
“In the safe environment of a simulator, you can make as many mistakes as you like. All the learning studies tell us that active learning and making mistakes helps memory retention. You learn more from making mistakes and by seeing the consequences. You’ll remember the experience. As we all know - practice makes perfect!”
AIS Survivex’s team know what they’re talking about. The AIS Survivex Marine Training Facility has been delivering world-class marine training for over 40 years. Since AIS Survivex acquired the centre in April 2021, it has trained 2500+ delegates in the safe operation of lifeboats launched from offshore installations and maritime vessels.
This significant investment in lifeboat simulators bolsters the existing portfolio of oil and gas courses offered by AIS Survivex and offers choice to customers. The investment also means AIS Survivex becomes the very first place globally to offer lifeboat training for coxswains both practically in the harbour and virtually via a simulator for freefall and twin fall escape scenarios.
AIS Survivex general manager in Aberdeen, Jamie Purves said: “This new technology is a major investment in our Aberdeen facility and underlines our continuing commitment to both the oil & gas and marine sectors to provide innovative training solutions, which build a competent and safe workforce.
“As well as highlighting our confidence in the energy sector, this investment sees us becoming the very first centre in the world to offer both virtual and traditional lifeboat training for coxswains. (Pull-out quote)
“Providing choice and options for our customers is key. Traditional practical training using a real lifeboat in the sea is mandatory for the initial coxswain lifeboat certification but the simulators are perfect for refresher and enhanced assessments.
“Experiencing the lifeboat simulators is amazing and incredibly realistic. You truly think you’ve been at sea. They feel real. Another advantage of lifeboat simulation we can offer is to practice live launches in a safe environment.
“According to InterManager, the international trade association for ship and crew managers, there have been 419 deaths involving lifeboats since 1981. Many of these lifeboat fatalities have been during lifeboat launch drills.
“We hope to cut this devastating statistic through the use of our lifeboat simulators. As well as being able to practice lifeboat launches virtually, our twin fall simulator features a separate mechanical hook release system to enable delegates to physically carry out pre-launch checks which works in tandem with the simulator.
“One of our simulators is a desktop version – the advanced coxswain training simulator. As well as practicing live launches within our centre, this simulator is mobile and can be packed up into its suitcase sized carryall and taken onto any worksite easily and quickly. Training and practising operations within the workplace allows multiple learners to be trained in an environment they are familiar with and reduces the need to travel to and from a training centre. Training scenarios can be tailored to replicate the client’s exact procedures and systems so it’s as close to the real thing as possible.
“Because the instructor comes to you, clients are only paying for the travel for one person. This is another appealing option as it cuts the travel time and expense of multiple learners leaving site which, in turn, reduces carbon emissions for clients.”
As well as simulator-based lifeboat training, AIS Survivex offers a wide range of courses to equip lifeboat crews with the skills they need.
In addition to training the current generation of lifeboat crew, AIS Survivex is focussed on inspiring the next generation coming through. Currently it is working with the Aberdeen Sea Cadets to offer ongoing tours and talks around marine safety. As part of this initiative, the sea cadets get to try out the survival pool and the new simulators. It is hoped this will help inspire future marine and energy careers for the youngsters.
George Masson said: “We are delighted to work with organisations such as the Sea Cadets. This younger generation requires a radically different approach to education and training. We need to leverage the power of technology such as our simulators to engage and inspire learners. Showcasing our simulator technology will hopefully inspire a new generation of workers to choose energy careers.”
To cope with customer demand, AIS Survivex is running assessments on its simulators twice daily five days a week. To find out more, visit www.survivex.com or email email@example.com / call 0330 202 0569.
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