A safety company was tasked with training and certifying a rescue service for a major oil and gas facility in Southern Africa. In developed regions, the training criteria and requirements for emergency response workers are set by government legislation. Industry associations also play a lead role in setting training standards. The provision of a highly trained rescue team without the benefits of state-of-the-art equipment and facilities is a challenge in remote areas.

As a best practice, the safety company followed the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards and training procedures employed in North America. Due to the remote location of the site, the confined space training had to be done using simulators and mock-up training towers. To ensure that safety standards were in place and not “watered down” for the field, rescue managers conducted a thorough review of industry best practices and brainstorming sessions with peers before and after trial runs.

The operator needed to see proof that the safety company and its local personnel were up to the task. The company had training facilities for other operations on the base. A well jacket simulator with a hatch in the landing deck area made a great location for the high angle practice and vertical confined space. Sea containers with plywood partitions and man ways cut out allowed for horizontal confined space practice. To support the project, the operator provided mockups of actual working structures and situations including a twenty-foot high representative section of a crude tower constructed from scaffold and plywood and wrapped in landscape fabric. A section of the deethanizer tower was also fabricated to ensure the rescue team could extract someone from what some were calling an impossible rescue situation. After a series of trial runs, the safety company successfully trained a team of local personnel with the same skill sets that would be expected in any part of the world. A demonstration of the final rescue procedure assured the operator that local personnel are now equipped to handle emergency rescue and are prepared to meet all situations at any time.

The lack of proper training facilities and legislation governing certification does not have to lead to rescue services that are not up to par with international standards. This paper discusses the standards an operator should expect from its emergency services regardless of location. With a strong commitment to safe work practices and a little creativity from the trainers, operators should not have to settle for anything but best-in-class emergency response utilizing local labor resources.

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