Day One - Sweeney Time

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Day One - Sweeney Time - Blah Blah - by Simon Campbell

First up was the pool sessions, Instructor Trainer Groupwork and demo Lesson. I was really dreading these elements. Although I had really prepped I had only just started on the Instructor Trainer Scheme and had little experience.

Following a good nights sleep and a delightful breakfast I walked down from the hotel to check out the pool. Wooden clad, it looked like many community pools and there was a sign on the door saying it was booked all morning for the BSAC. Yes, I was in the right place.

I walked back up the hill for the car and returned a few minutes later complete with my hi-vis fluorescent yellow jacket to the strains of Wolfmother's 'Joker and Thief.' I parked up and then the examination team's convoy swooped in like something out of the 70's cop show The Sweeney; remember them?

They always used to come sweeping into car parks, in convoy, squealing tyres with Jack Reagan and George Carter in the leading car. It was no different. Only the names had changed...

In the yellow jacket I looked like a car park attendant and tried taking some money from ND’O’. Yes, he is Scottish.

0845: We all entered and quickly donned our wetsuits and set up our kit on the cramped poolside. The pool is 16 x 6 metre with a depth of 1m to 1.5m. Watto was running this particular session and we all were congregated poolside ready for the brief; I was feeling very nervous. The two sessions together were four hours long.

He divided us into teams for the groupwork lesson. I was with Allan (Tomo), Reedo and Churcho. He did give us a brief but I have to say I was in a state of utter panic and didn't remember a thing except for the comment about not trying to eat the elephant and once we had eaten a bit, leave it to digest and not to think about it... The ramblings of a deranged man, clearly a lunatic.

The objective of this element of the exam is to to guide a group of prospective instructors in the planning, preparation and presentation of a 20 minute pool lesson and to manage the feedback process.

Allan agreed to run the first session and I followed but had to ask him what I was doing (head gone already). As far as I was concerned it was a disaster...

This was followed by the instructor trainer demo lesson and I was working with Carlo. I was allocated mask, fins and snorkel; sounds easy doesn't it? But you have to remember you are performing a demonstration quality lesson in this highly charged environment. Bloody murder.

<img src="{filedir_4}Groupwork_session.jpg" width="210" height="233" alt="groupwork session" />

Groupwork Session

I did feel this was OK and Carlo gave me some reassurance that it was a good lesson. Surely she was just being nice!

Pool finished in what seemed like 2 minutes, showered, changed then out to the car park with lunch out of the back of Pearso’s van. Next up the Rescue Instructor workshop...

Wind: The Enemy of the National Instructor Candidate...

1345: Given the limited time, the Rescue Instructor Workshop was planned pretty well (well done Andy). We were asked to create four stations to teach and manage:

  1. Dekit and recover into RIB
  2. Land from RIB to shore
  3. Basic Life Support (BLS) on shore
  4. Use of Automated External Defibrillators

So dashing from the pool we went to collect the boats and rendezvous at the site for the workshop. Of course, we had to coordinate all the kit that had to be there (manikins/O2/AED units) plus the candidates, students and examiners... Strewth.

Bromo had enlisted the services of Deirdre Murray, Jimmy Whyte, Colin Wishart, Steve Bunn and Heather MacLellan from the Inverness Sub Aqua Club to act as students / casualties for the workshop (thanks chaps). Each candidate was timed at the station and after a pre-determined time Dennis blew his whistle to get us moving to the next station; of course each station was manned with an examiner.

<img src="{filedir_4}two-ribs.jpg" width="210" height="141" alt="Two ribs coming towards the shore" /> This was all about not just teaching the skill to the students but teaching them HOW to teach the skill. Some of the students managed to add a third dimension; that's teaching the examiners how to teach the students to teach the skill. Confused, you will be...

Everything was fine at the beginning as we had moored the boats to the shore using anchors with the wind keeping them nicely away from the shore... The wind of course veered and started to move the boats dangerously close to the rocks. Hurriedly putting a second anchor in whilst trying to deliver your lesson is not recommended. Eventually some of the examiners acted as human anchors; very thoughtful.

Task finished, one boat moored and one extracted and back to the Lochalsh Hotel for the Dry Practical to the strains of Hands by the Raconteurs. 'Girl, you got those hands that heal' - my goodness I needed that right now...

*Cambo’s Exam Tip #3: If possible, get to the venues before the examiners. Shows you are on the ball and eliminates the stress of being late. Dry throat and bulging bladder for the dry practical...*

1630: As I walked into the hotel ready for a wee and a drink in that order, Maggie (No 'O') stood in the doorway to the dining room and said. "Ahh, you're just in time". I was taken to the room behind the curtain to find a chart, a set of navigation instruments and a pile of examiners headed by Sean (ND'O'). The brief was to deliver a lesson based on criteria on a sheet accompanying the instruments. I looked at the sheet frantically trying to remember how to calculate distance and course to steer using tidal vectors. I was teaching Mr Wigg with Mark (Willo) examining. Nasty...

<img src="{filedir_4}watto_andy.jpg" width="210" height="144" alt="Watto looking interested. Well done Andy" /> I did get through it relatively unscathed even though I didn't agree with many of Willo's comments in the candidate assessment but what the hell I passed... Following the session we were separated from the second group to go in so we didn't spill the beans on what it was about...

Planning Session...

1730: I did have time to relieve myself prior to the planning session, just... The candidates were split into two which was a bit of a shock as, due to the low number, we expected to all be on the hardboat the same day... Anyhow I was in a group with Andy and Allan planning the non-skippered boat. Steve and Sarah were in the hardboat planning group.

<img src="{filedir_4}planning_session_300.jpg" width="210" height="140" alt-"planning session" />

My two tasks were to:

  1.  Provide for the examiners a drift dive, teaching the effects of streamlining on the diver and deploying a delayed DSMB mid water whilst in the drift.
  2. Teaching how to measure the inside of a closed area deep within the wreck of the Port Napier.

The second of the tasks was a team effort and followed on from one of the other candidate's exercise... Remember folks not only do we have to arrange the task but teach the planning of the diving, management, route planning etc etc...

Examiners left after an hour. 

Watto and Bromo stayed on but before he left Watto in his inimitable style started talking about elephants again... He drew a picture with bites taken out of it and said that we had already eaten a quarter of it...

<img src="{filedir_4}elephant.jpg" width="210" height="114" alt="Watto's drawing of an elephant..." />

Here is the actual drawing. Yes this was created at the hand of a grown man...

As soon as they left, we ordered dinner, ate it on the fly and finished planning at 2230. Following a pint in the bar, I went off to my single room... Pillow, head, sleep dreaming of piles of elephant pooh. Lucky me.

*Cambo’s Exam Tip #4: Sleeping well is essential. Don't stay up too late and when you get in your room don't work, sleep.*

Quote #1 from the event

Most challenging thing about the event was getting up on Sunday morning at 0500 (to recheck my plans) after getting to sleep at 0300, missing breakfast because there just wasn't time and then having to go diving. It was the first and only time in my life I have ever wondered if I was capable of doing the dive, but happily I was fine as soon as I hit the water. Climbing the ladder after the dive felt like Everest without oxygen. 

Best thing about the event, apart from the opportunities to learn from candidates and examiners, was the drift dive with Clare. We played and just had fun...

<cite>Sarah (Carlo)</cite>

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