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Helicopter safety clothes

The only way to get to North Sea oil platforms is by helicopter. The helicopter journey to a North Sea oil platform is between 40 minutes and 3 hours - depending where the platform is.

Every passenger has a safety suit which includes a lifebelt and survival equipment. They also wear ear defenders (because the engine is so loud) and the rebreather apparatus (in the orange pouch).

Anyone making this journey has to take the training course.

The first part of the course is to learn how to use the rebreather apparatus (or airpocket). This is a large bag that is kept in a pouch on the front of the person's safety suit. The bag acts like an external lung. If the helicopter lands in water and sinks, the air in this bag will last for about 60 seconds giving them longer to escape from under water.

The second part of the training is to practise escaping in a swimming pool. The trainee sits in a model helicopter (called a HUET) as it is lowered into the pool. As it submerges, they start using their rebreather and then escape through the nearest exit when the HUET comes to rest. This training is pretty daunting!

Just before they submerge, the person breathes out into the bag. They will then rebreath this air for the next minute or so. They can do this because exhaled air still contains about 80% of the original oxygen.

In addition to the rebreathed air, they can release a canister of compressed air into the bag, giving them another minute's worth.

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The rebreather apparatus (or airpocket) is a plastic bag with a tube, mouthpies and valve. This would give the passenger more time to escape from underwater.

The next part of the training is to practise escaping in a swimming pool. The trainee sits in a model helicopter (called a HUET) as it is lowered into the pool. As it submerges, they start using their rebreather and then escape through the nearest exit when the HUET comes to rest. This training is pretty daunting!

The Helicopter Underwater Escape Trainer (HUET) is a mock up of a helicopter that can be lowered into a special swimming pool and even turned upside down.

First, the trainee practises using the rebreather apparatus underwater; then they practice escaping from the submerged HUET (above); and finally they pracise escaping from the sumberged, upsaide down HUET.

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