Simulator shows effects of helicopter crash in water

The tragic helicopter crash earlier this week in the Gulf of Mexico reiterates how dangerous off-shore oil and gas industry environments can be. And that's why there's special training for those working on offshore platforms. News 10's Caroline Balchunas was put to the test during that training. Check out the video to see how it went.

There are a lot of hazards that go along with working on an off-shore oil rig and the journey going to and from the rig can be just as dangerous. The helicopter ride requires extensive training as well. It's a type of conditioning for the worst case scenario.

“(You get) water up your nose, disorientation, where's that window corner, where's that door handle, where's that seatbelt, where's the surface,” said Terry

Crownover, Director of Training for the Marine Survival Training Center.

The program, run through University of Louisiana at Lafayette is in its 24th year.

So, just how real is this simulator? They put me to the test. I changed into oilfield coveralls. It's a requirement for the simulator since the weight really changes your agility and movement under water. We didn't dive in the simulation right off the bat. It began with a swim test, floatation techniques and how to survive rough at-sea conditions. After a few total submersion run-throughs, a couple inverted trials, it seems Crownover was right about the disorientation.

“(In reality you're under water for) 8 to 10 seconds, but when you come to the surface, you'll swear you've been there for minutes,” said Crownover.

And he wasn't kidding. Adrenaline kicks in as soon as your feet touch the water. Although the simulation is only a fraction of how a real-life scenario would play out, over the years, it's proven effective.

“It's one of the perks of being an instructor over here is when somebody comes back and says I'm here from what I learned at school,” said Crownover. “We've had success stories.”    

I survived my first marine training and although I now have a mental map, I can only hope I'll never actually have to use it.

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