It goes without saying that working on an offshore installation is hazardous. Substantial effort is made to ensure accidents don't happen, but if something does go wrong, everyone must know their role and be ready to respond.
Step Change in Safety recently attended an OIM Emergency Response training awareness exercise run by Petrofac Training. We saw how complex the exercises can be, how skilled the OIMs need to be to respond and how hard it is to process and communicate critical information under pressure.
The training began with an overview of what makes a successful OIM: the ability to control, command and communicate effectively. This was followed by everyone taking part in mock scenarios. Delegates were assigned to different positions: OIM, control room operator (CRO), medic and key events coordinator. The scenarios included fires, helicopter collisions, hydrocarbon leaks and injuries. The group left with more respect for those who calmly deal with these high-potential incidents. In the highly unlikely event that responders need to call on the skills learned in this training environment, it is reassuring to know they are able to keep calm and carry on.
Tea Shack News spoke with people who are trained to act and think quickly in the event of an emergency.
The OIM: The OIM is responsible for declaring an emergency situation and coordinating the entire response. They decide on what actions to take. "I'm trained to respond to everything including bomb threats, medical emergencies and helicopter incidents. I have a birds-eye view on full incident coordination, so I manage all response and resource requirements.
"During an incident, you're so focused it's not until the de-brief that you can reflect on what went well, or what needs to be improved. I feel nothing but pride when the teams work well together." - Vicky Lamont, Brent Bravo Platform
The Fire Team: "I've been on the fire team for several years, and am trained to deal with incidents that may occur following a platform fire. Safety is something I'm passionate about. In the event that something does go wrong, I want to assist in controlling the issue and be part of the incident investigation team, so I can find out why it happened in the first place.
"We have a four-day fire team training course every two years. I hope I never have to use the training in a real-life situation." - Brandon Ross, Claymore Platform
The HLO: "As a Helicopter Landing Officer (HLO), I deal with any incident on the helideck and as a Heli Admin, I'm part of the Incident Management Team (IMT). I confirm who is or isn't accounted for, and declare any injuries.
"We once lost power on Claymore which left us without electricity, phones and access to Vantage. We down-manned immediately, but achieved our goal before darkness stopped us from flying. Thankfully not many people have actually had a real helicopter evacuation." - Derek Potts, Claymore Platform
The Coastguard: "HM's Coastguard is responsible for co-ordinating civil maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in the UK. We send adequate resources to people either in distress within the UK search and rescue region, or in danger on the coastline and cliffs. In all types of incidents, the Coastguard would coordinate the search and rescue mission.
"The most appropriate resources are sent to the situation, which can include Coastguard Rescue Officers, helicopters and lifeboats. They have to take into account visibility, sea states, tides, weather and the situation. Every incident is different, so we have to select the appropriate response for all involved." - Geoff Matthews, HM Coastguard
The standby vessels: "The Emergency Response and Rescue Vessel (ERRV) provides support for offshore installations on a daily basis. We see the best and the worst of mother nature which is challenging and rewarding. Our support ranges from providing rescue cover for heli operations, overside cover (close standby) and traffic monitoring.
"The ERRV must be kept in a constant state of readiness. I ensure the crew are well-practiced in emergency response drills because in an emergency, you rely on your training for your actions to be instinctive, effective and correct. It's not just a case of being here; it's a case of being ready." - Bruce Parker, Master Vos Vigilant
Incident Management Team: "The Incident Management Team (IMT) is based in the office and is responsible for providing overall management of the emergency response to an incident.
"The IMT comprises of an on-call duty manager and multi-discipline team of technical, operational, HR and logistics personnel, with additional supporting resources such as drilling or environmental specialists when required. The OIM will be in contact with the IMT throughout the incident. We coordinate support by liaising with the emergency services, government agencies and specialist contractors to assist in the management of the incident on site. We also communicate with and provide support to personnel involved in the incident and their families. The IMT manager's priority is always people, then environment, then asset." - Stuart Taylor, Apache
The Police: "The Energy Industry Liaison Unit (EILU) works with the industry to improve offshore emergency response. This unit is the single point of contact between police and industry and we advise fellow police officers during offshore emergencies. We take part in exercises, deliver training to operating companies, and train and maintain Police Liaison Officers, who are the link between Police Scotland and companies' emergency response teams during offshore incidents.
"The Police coordinate any onshore consequence, and investigate any crimes or deaths. Officers can be required to deploy offshore so we've all completed the BOSIET." - Fay Tough, Energy Industry Liaison Unit
Communicators: In an emergency situation, it is vital that families, companies and the public receive truthful and accurate information. A company's emergency response team includes media advisors and relative responders, who ensure factual information is disseminated in accordance with strict communcation procedures in a timely manner. They also ensure a joined up approach is taken with all agencies involved in the response."