Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Essential Skills

I have been employed part-time on the charter boats for some years now and it was a job I never applied for but just fell into via my relationship with Greig. Out of high school I got into the restaurant/hotel industry with the thought that maybe I'd go to school and get into management. After working for a few years in it I realized it wasn't my cup of tea and I needed something more creative.

In the past few years I have accrued a substantial amount of sea time, albeit fairly close to shore, working most weekends and my regular 8-4, M-F government job. Still, time on a boat is still time on a boat. In all that time I've never gone for any of my MEDs (Marine Emergency Duties) or any of the Transport Canada certifications. I've half heartedly looked into the STCW 95. The intent would be to could get that certification and potentially quit my real job and finally go crewing somewhere warm and tropical? As much as I put it off no education is ever wasted but it would have to occur when it was more convenient for me to do so.

Big Cheese has offered to pay for it in the past but it has always require me taking paid vacation time from my "real" job to which I kind of balked against. It was somewhat of a contentious issue with me and Greig for he has always pushed for us to work more together and while that isn't so problematic per se, I actually like my job as a designer. I also balked because I felt by in large that my "real" job that provided the extended health care and regular hours was "crap" in his mind and that just irked me. Now that isn't really how he felt or intended, but it was how I was made to feel about it moreover. Chalk that up to male/female communication issues/misunderstandings yet again.

OK, sure my "design" job is a lowly community college and I am not working for some fro-frooy ad agency downtown getting written up in Applied Arts, the GDC or Print*.  Sure that maybe does has more cachet. Bottom line, I like it. I love the people I work with  and they are also dear friends. I've worked in enough dreadful places to know how precious that is. It is collaborative and like most other post-secondary institutions, more conservative than you'd realize. I always use to joke that one of my fellow classmates from Langara had "my" job for she went from here to Outside Magazine (once one of my favorite mags) to the now defunct and much missed Blueprint and then onto Martha Stewart Weddings. "She" worked in New York, for MARTHA!  I envied her while I toiling away in a ultimately dead end government job trying to convince people to not use Comic Sans or clip art.

And really, over the years of dealing with various and sundry boat emergencies it was something I "should" have had. Once I was crew when we ran aground just of Point Atkinson and the skegs got pretty much ripped off the Eloquent. That was a scary incident because it was a calm summer day and I didn't know what we hit as I was pouring behind the bar. But Greig kept me calm and we mustered passengers and kept everyone else calm and luckily all was relatively fine. Still, it was scary.

It was a hell of a scare too when the Pacific Express caught fire too. Greig had pushed and pushed the landlord there  to get a fire pump on those rickety docks. He had training and thus the confidence to direct others when it was most important and amongst us got the fire out by in large by the time the Richmond Fire department arrived.

Then, I was on the Partnership with earplugs in steam cleaning some carpets. My steam cleaner is noisy so I didn't hear people yelling.  Ultimately, I was alarmed by the vibration of people running up and down the dock, shut down the machine and pulled out my plugs to hear what the panic was about. Again, beside Mt. Kleeman, I could hear people yelling and hollering but I couldn't see the Express on fire until I walked all the way around the other side of it. At the time, the tide was low and the main dock  sat on the beach at a 15% angle. One of the fire hoses was already out and laying on the dock and with the lean it had rolled under Mt. Kleeman. The hose and nozzle was pinched amongst all the flotsam that we were constantly inundated with there.

Greig had by that time come home from taking the kids to lunch and had one hose on the fire but needed a second one to give the necessary backup to cool it all down. They kept pulling on the hose but couldn't loosen it off. Given the tilt of the dock and that part of Mt. Kleeman was sitting on the beach there was a gap that I could see. I dropped down onto my stomach and crawled underneath it to see if I could wedge the hose and the nozzle back out of there. It was just out of my reach and the flotsam became a wee bit of a benefit for I was able to wedge my hips far enough in further to grab the hose, free it from the flotsam and hollered, "PULL, PULL, PULL!" And with that they got the second hose on it and managed to get it cooled down before it really got away on us all.

Yesterday and today I have been taking my MED A2s at BCIT and through the Justice Institute of BC. I've got two more days at BCIT.  BCIT is the premier trades and technogy institute here in BC. The "JI," trains all the paramedics and firefighters, as well as additional programs to local police and RCMP.

Today, day two, we went out to Maple Ridge Campus to do the firefighting portion. Besides freezing my backside off we actually got to do some firefighting simulation there. Thankfully we had a fantastic instructor, a now retired 28 year veteran of the Vancouver Fire Department who took this otherwise dry and serious material and made it relevent, practical and interesting. I have to say I did learn a lot and I will from here on in not shop for fire extinguishers in quite the same way! I have been mindful all day of that day on the Pacific Express today, sort of joking with our instructor on my "experience" with boat emergencies.

Tomorrow, we are going to get wet the pool to try and get people in and out of the water. If I think of it, maybe I'll take the camera and post some pictures.

Thankfully, for the sake of my classmates, I've waxed.

*But we DO win awards! Our team one six awards in District 7 at NCMPR. I am proud to say that three of the pieces I designed one three awards too. Yea Douglas!


Trace said...

Haha, when I read the title of this post I thought for a minute you were writing about the training group!!

Jamie said...

Ahhhh, so that's our secret bond - my former paramedic self recognizes the calm-in-the-storm-and-able-to-tell-a-great-story-later You. Good on ya - can't wait to see the pictures.

bowiechick said...

Ha Trace! thought about that after.

J, I forgot the durn camera but one of my classmates and fellow workmate at Accent took a whack. Maybe I can steal a few from him.