face your phobias

9 Nov

confined spaces? check.

total darkness? check.

heavy load of breathing apparatus set strapped to your back? check.

limited air supply and difficulty in breathing? check.

put together your favourite phobias above and what do you get?

the breathing apparatus confidence test.

looks just like the one i used. only newer.

i had just completed it and it was quite an experience. it was my first time and i really did not know what i was in for despite stories from those who went first. i was all excited and gung-ho while my mates around me didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm. i later understood why when my turn came.  the “test” is basically a course consisting of mostly squarish shaped passageways and tunnels (sometimes laid with obstacles) and hatches that open above or under you. sounds simple right? the catch is that you do this in total darkness, like the cannot-see-your-hands-in-front-of-your-face kind, and breathing depends on a breathing apparatus set with limited air supply.

no kidding.

the first few seconds were really really unpleasant -_-; this discomfort will turn into panic if you let it gnaw at you. you spend most of the time on your belly crawling and feeling your way through the tunnels. just how confined is it? my guesstimation would be around 1.5m x 1.5m at the most comfortable passages and the narrowest tunnel was what i swear felt like only 1 metre in diameter across. this would be ample space but when you have a BA set strapped on your back, your face wrapped in the mask and your own laboured, darth vader-like breathing in your ears…

i would have been stuck at the narrowest tunnel if not for my buddy pushing me through from behind. this is one of the instances where the body i so lovingly built turned against me ^^; my pride took a hit as i realised that my extra-medium built and ability to move heavy iron is at best ineffectual or at worst, a crippling burden in such a situation.

what i had experienced was just a modified course meant for noobs like myself. at critical points of the route, the instructors will be there to help out by flashing a light at where you should head to and sometimes give hints at how to approach some of the obstacles. apparently firefighters would be served the full course – longer route, limited air, no assistance and they have to rescue a dummy victim that weighs 70-80kg! tough shit.

i gratefully emerge from the course with my clothes dishevelled, soaked in sweat and bruises on my knees, elbows and ego. i am glad to have had the chance to experience just a fraction of a real firefighter’s training and to have survived it (without tapping out :) ) to tell you about it while sipping my usual kopi at a not-the-usual kopitiam.

post-ordeal cuppa soothes all frayed nerves

no other photos cuz photo-taking was the last thing on my mind at that time, ya know?


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