[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]
Wednesday after lunch LTJG Josh DiPietro’s voice came over the pipe to announce General Quarters Condition 1 on station training. “Do not set material condition Zebra. Everyone report to your GQ billet and dress out.”
This drill marked the last drill where the training teams can offer instruction. The training teams are those folks you have seen in the blog photos wearing multi-colored ball caps with DCTT and NTT and CSTT and ETT on them. The next drill will shift from training to evaluation, where the TTs stand by and watch the crew respond to drills, period. Although I did hear EM3 Samuel Cousins say, “If you get a look at their scripts, take it.”
Josh laughs. “It’s called reach-through training. We learned it from the Navy.” Josh is the DCTT (Damage Control Training Team) leader, leaving ship at the next port call. “One month out of the academy I report on board,” he says, “and they said, You’re a locker leader now.” His response? “How do I get there and what do I do?” When he gets there they ask him what kind of fire it is. “There’s a fire?” They tell him to use his checklist. “There’s a checklist?”
This kind of training is all hands-on OJT, they don’t tell anybody anything at first, they let them stumble through the drills on their own, though they have completed their DC PQS training. “They have to try and fail a few drills. Then we give them a walk-through,” Josh says, “and then they tear it up.”
There are two main repair lockers. On Munro, a repair locker is sort of like the firehouse. It’s where our unvolunteer fire departments report to when there is an emergency. At present, Repair Locker 2, forward, is up to speed. Repair Locker 3, aft (where the Vise Gang hangs), is getting there. (There is no Repair Locker 1. No one has been able to explain why.)
All emergencies begin just like real life with a smoke or flooding alarm going off on the Bridge. The QMOW reads the alarm panel and pipes the location by tac number and compartment name (for those who still struggle with the whole tac number thing) and “Away the Rapid Response Team.” The RRT members are the experts, they serve as the DCTT during drills. If the RRT can’t take care of the emergency, which of course during drills never happens, then it’s time to call in the Repair Lockers to respond.
All the DC PQS training leads to the repair lockers. In the event of a casualty, whether we live, die or swim depends on the repair locker teams. They literally hold our lives in their hands. That’s why we drill so much.
Chief Will Ray and Chief Heidi Eystad, attired in red DCTT (pronounced DEE-set) ball caps are skulking outside Repair Locker 3 during the GQ1 drill. There are twenty-two crew members crammed into a very small, very hot space. There is of course a checklist. Someone is lecturing about SCBAs. Impatient, and very probably zeroing in on the sweating team’s collective thousand-mile stare, on the spur of the moment Will says, “Let’s walk through a fire casualty.”
Everyone perks up, and suddenly there is a great deal of activity. Will “sets” a fire in Rec 3 and waves a red flash shirt and white flash glove to simulate an Alpha fire. “Fire, fire, fire!” Doors, hatches and scuttles are mimed set to Zebra. The team reports in to locker leader LTJG Eric Golder. FS2 Lee Schob establishes communications with DCC, Repair Locker 3 is manned and ready. The two investigators are away, discover the fire in Rec 3, set the fire and smoke boundaries, and the fire team is on scene, followed shortly by fire under control and fire out. I’ve skipped some steps here but basically that’s it.
“This was fun,” somebody said.
“I wish they were all like this,” someone else said.
The debrief in Rec 3, just down the hall, is cooler, just as crowded and even more lively. Eric walks the team down the Fire Casualty checklist. Arms shoot into the air, answers are shouted out, and once there are so many that Eric has to shout them down. “Okay, you, what are the four ways to establish communications?” (Answer: sound powered phone, dialex phone, radio, and message blanks) “What is the definition of smoke boundaries?” “How do you electrically isolate a space?”
Then, as a reward for someone asking about flooding, Will volunteers them for an additional ten minutes’ training on the Flooding Casualty checklist. There is very little groaning.
Later I describe the scene to Josh. He smiled. “Yeah,” he says, “they’re hungry. They’ll never admit it but there’s a competition between the repair lockers.”
Will says, “The value of doing this over and over again is when the real thing happens, you go, Oh, is that all? I can do that.” MK1 Dan Bensley tells the story of two CARTs ago (Cutter Annual Readiness Training) in San Diego during which the incinerator caught fire for real. Munro had the fire out and the ship back in business in an hour and a half.
What really torques Dan is the ATG (Afloat Training Group) wouldn’t give Munro credit for it because it wasn’t briefed beforehand.
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