Dispatch 4: Scared by the Bell!
September 8, 2020
My heart raced. A bead of sweat began to materialize on my forehead and I forgot where I was for just a moment. All of this I tried to hide, as I noticed a man who was standing in the hall, just outside of my Supernumerary living quarters. It was one of the crew and he was quite entertained, as he giggled at my reaction to a loud noise. I couldn’t blame him for his amusement - I’m sure it was quite hilarious. What was the sound I jumped at, you wonder? Well, it was the sound of a fire alarm and I had one of the bells RIGHT outside of my room…and this was a part of the scheduled fire drill. Once my mind had a moment to compute what the heck was happening, I smiled back to the crew member with embarrassment.
The routine emergency practices started right at 8pm on Sept 5, 2020, the first day that we set sail. It started with a fire drill, which we were instantly notified of by the heart-stopping and continuous ring of the bright red bells that are found in every corner of the ship. This meant that we all had to gather at our “muster” stations, after collecting our life jackets that are always stowed in our bedroom closets. Each bedroom is equipped with a safety card, detailing muster stations and duties, which we were told to read and remember after boarding the ship. On my safety card, it read that my muster station was in the helicopter hangar. Time to meet up with my fellow shipmates!
Determined to participate in the emergency drill with perfection, I left my room on the 5th level of the ship (which was the second from the lowest level) and walked straight up to the “flight and boat deck,” aka the third floor. I continued towards the hangar, which was located near the aft end or stern of the ship.
I arrived to a collection of about 25 people who gathered in a fairly large and extremely tall hangar. I was pretty pleased to be able to stare at the shiny red helicopter with dreams of one day enjoying a ride through the clouds in it…but my day dream quickly faded after attendance was taken, because we then heard the ships loud horn: 7 short blasts and 1 long one. This is the signal for abandon ship and the second drill of the evening!
From the hangar, we calmly but quickly walked to our designated lifeboats. There is one on either side of the ship. I was assigned to the port side, so I eagerly walked to meet my new best friends. We would be getting quite cozy together if we actually needed to get in the completely enclosed bright orange lifeboat, so it was time to get acquainted. I’ve heard that the lifeboats rock and roll in the sea pretty good once deployed, so I can only imagine how everyone’s stomachs would handle the waves over a long period of time…
The final piece of the pie for safety aboard the CCGS LSSL, was trying on an immersion suit. If you’ve never had this opportunity, well, you’re missing out. This is a mustang suit that is complete with a cute snug little hood and booties. These magical yellow or red onsies will keep you dry if you happen to go into the water. The old red and black style of suits are more similar to a surfers/divers wet suit and are almost like a second skin. This helps keep them very watertight. The yellow suits they have added to their collection are a little easier to get on and have a bit of a baggy feel to them, at least until you are trying to get the zipper over your mouth. That’s always a challenge!
Now that we have all the safety protocol out of the way, we are ready to head North to get our Science on!