Escape and Evacuation

Understanding the Impact of Dive Mask Use During Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (2011 - 2013)

Before travelling offshore, all personnel must undergo basic survival training, which includes helicopter underwater escape training (HUET) and helicopter underwater emergency breathing apparatus training (HUEBA). Following the introduction of dive masks on helicopters serving the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore petroleum industry, the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (OSSC) incorporated the use of dive masks into HUET and HUEBA training exercises.

Many thousands of students have subsequently used the mask during training and OSSC instructors involved in the delivery of HUET training hypothesize that using the dive mask offers benefits to students during training as well as in the event of a real helicopter ditching incident. Researchers at OSSC are not aware of any formal structured research that has been undertaken with the objective of proving or disproving the benefit of dive mask use.

This project will address the gap in research.

SAFEGUARD - Validating Ship Evacuation Models through Full-Scale Sea Trials on Passenger Ships (2009 - 2012)

The main objective of SAFEGUARD is to acquire a large body of sea based data on passenger response times and assembly times representative of realistic ship evacuation scenarios. The data will be of a sufficient size and richness to enable model calibration (in terms of response time distributions) and verification and validation (of assembly process) and serve as the basis for improved evacuation analysis protocols.

Understanding the Impact of Motion on Donning of Marine Abandonment Immersion Suits (2010 - 2011)

The Canadian immersion suit standard specifies that a person must be able to don a suit in less than two minutes after having ten minutes to read instructions and examine a suit. The standard makes no mention of being able to don a suit while on a moving platform.

This project investigated the effect of motion on immersion suit donning to determine if it significantly increased the time needed to prepare to escape a vessel because of imminent danger such as fire or sinking in rough sea states.

Development of a Safe and Effective Means for Using Emergency Breathing Systems in Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (2008 - 2009)

Training in the use of emergency breathing systems through HUEBA is a required training for all personnel working offshore as of November 2007, and incorporated into courses offered in Atlantic Canada. This project addressed the need at OSSC to develop capability in Newfoundland and Labrador to offer HUEBA training.

The outputs from this project included the incorporation of HUEBA training in OSSC courses, along with a unique training chair design that allows for complete control of the risk to which students are subjected during training.

Operational Performance of Life Rafts at Sea (2004 - 2007)

Life rafts are commonly used worldwide as primary or secondary means of evacuation from merchant ships, passenger vessels, fishing boats, and offshore petroleum installations. In many cases, life rafts are required by regulation or law to provide for safety of life at sea.

Despite being almost universally prescribed and carried by ships and offshore platforms, the actual performance that can realistically be expected of life rafts and the people who have to use them in practice is largely unknown. The absence of knowledge about life raft performance - especially in different weather conditions - weakens rational decision-making processes governing search and rescue operations and planning.

This project assessed life raft operational performance in terms of technical capabilities in a range of weather conditions. The influence of external factors and mitigating measures on performance was evaluated, including the role of human factors and training.

The outcome of the project was practical knowledge to promote survival and support operational decision-making, with the ultimate goal being to improve the safety of personnel who work on or travel by sea.

FIRE EXIT (2003 - 2006)

The objective of this European Union led project was to equip the marine industry with a ship evacuation simulator that provided enhanced reliability, realism and design utility over previous ship evacuation software. It addressed issues of mustering, ship motions, fire and abandonment.

OSSC played a vital role in this project by measuring the performance of over 300 individuals through the various stages of the ship abandonment process. Test subjects used four different abandonment devices (davit launched life raft, davit launched lifeboat, inflatable slide and vertical chute).

The project undertook full-scale at sea assembly trials onboard a ropax ferry with more than 800 passengers in total. Passenger response to alarms was measured and presented to the International Maritime Organization, resulting in changes to how response time is represented in evacuation assessments for large passenger ships during design.

Measuring Forces and Accelerations on Users of Slides and Chutes (2004 - 2005)

Forces acting on a person during an evacuation can be affected by marine evacuation system (MES) design, environmental forces on the MES and subject expertise and morphology. While shipboard instruction is provided to passengers regarding procedures and strategies for evacuation system use, in the case of chutes and slides, it is unlikely that passengers will have an opportunity to practice critical evacuation tasks (especially under conditions of physical and mental stresses typical of abandonment situations).

Therefore it is necessary to consider forces a passenger is exposed to under evacuation conditions and assess how MES design may influence these magnitudes. In addition, situations where people being evacuated cannot react to mediate these external forces (for example people who are physically challenged or incapacitated) it becomes paramount that MESs are designed to minimize stressors placed on passengers.

Transport of Stretcher Cases on Stairways in Offshore Environments (2004 - 2005)

This study was conducted at OSSC to determine the time required for experienced offshore safety personnel to carry a loaded stretcher up several flights of stairs, through doorways and across level open areas.

Evacuating Stretcher Cases Using Slides and Chutes (2004)

To date the study of human performance in passenger vessel evacuations has involved the use of representative able-bodied people. However, some people requiring evacuation from passenger vessels could be injured or physically challenged, and possibly require assistance of crew members and/or specialized equipment.

For this project, tests were undertaken at OSSC with researchers from the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University to determine the efficacy of evacuating stretcher cases using an inflatable slide and a vertical chute. Mannequins of three different masses were used and times for each test were tabulated, along with the quality of the method used.