Fireman Harrison To The Rescue @ BMMC Training Weekend

Obviously the term ‘fireman’ there could be referred to as me being sexist or whatever, but being a woman, and calling myself ‘fireman’ we can let slide this time, I don’t want to get caught up in technicalities when I’ve just put out my first fire.

So, last weekend was the BMMC Marshals Training Weekend at Oulton Park, and despite going into my third season of marshalling now, I have never been to a training day or used an extinguisher in my life, so I thought it was about time I learnt some basic skills.

I turned up to the track in the only motoring-friendly outfit I could find, before I was faced with a sea of orange and realised the 500 or so other training bodies had turned up in their probans, ready for fire extinguishing. Obviously I’m all about the outfit changes, so I left mine in the boot of my car and swanned about in my ‘civilian clothes’ for a bit.

After saying ‘Hello’ to friends I hadn’t really spoken to over the off-season, and bumping into The Preacher and several other busybodies whilst scoffing a bacon sandwich and downing as much coffee as I possibly could, it was time to be trained.

All the marshals were split into different groups depending on their experience, and I was 6U – yay – and ha the pleasure of spending the morning listening to talks on First Response in an incident (which was very helpful and answered a lot of questions I had), Cameras and Snatches (which discussed the implementation of video cameras at the circuit, as well as the usefulness of snatch vehicles), and whilst I could ramble on about this topic for hours, I’m going to save it for a time when I’ve had a quiet race weekend and need something to debate.

Incident Handling put the fear of God into me as we watched videos of people getting killed, smashing into walls, setting on fire, barrel rolling and generally doing things that you’re not meant to do in cars. I’ve got to be honest, whilst I know YouTube crash clips are popular with many of the ghoulish voyeurs – hell there’s a whole programme dedicated to smashes on Motors TV – I it’s not nice to watch them and think, ‘shit, one day I might have to deal with an incident like that.’ and whilst I know the training day is there to prepare you for it, what if a bit of car slices your head off or something?

Anyway, less of the death talk, the most interesting talk for me was on flagging, now, this talk REALLY confused me because Andy Holley told me one thing (and he’s the boss – what he says HAS to be correct) but, over the course of my marshalling life, when I have chatted to various flaggies, they have told me things completely different. Luckily though, Andy had knocked up some little booklets all about the art of flag marshalling, so I’m hoping now everyone has one of those, we start to have some sort of more definitive flagging structure. I’m still terrified of doing it though (with motorbikes we don’t have the blue flag) but I’m keen to give it a go this season.

After lunch (and my outfit change into the probans) it was time for Live Fire Training; the aspect of marshalling I have always dreaded… yes, I am terrified of fire. Its not funny, and no guys, as much as some of you dislike me, it’s not going to stop me marshalling just because I might be scared.

I managed to get myself on the foam bottle, which meant I didn’t have to actually approach the flames themselves, I just followed in as ‘backup’ to cool the area after the flames had been put out. Now this I could do in a real-life scenario.

Why?

Well, I know I make a big song and dance about women being treated the same as men at the track, but when it comes to legging it to a burning car with a fire bottle in your hand, it’s usually the guys I’m on post with who are stronger and more capable of getting to the fire in the quickest time – I do find it a struggle to rush with a full extinguisher, especially on the rather uneven terrain at Oulton so, I would be quite happy getting there a few seconds after my fellow male marshal and cooling the area with my foamy goodness.

Despite the fact that I’d built up the fire training into some massive deal that I was terrified of (I drank about 8 cups of coffee and even forgot to take my handbag off when it came to putting it out) it was actually REALLY good to do, and I know now that if it came to it, I could use an extinguisher effectively, so thanks Geoff Cooper and the fire team at Oulton!

I found the whole day really informative and feel a lot better equipped now that I have that theory (and practical) knowledge behind me, although, I must admit, I did hear a lot of the other marshals saying they wouldn’t come again because it’s the same stuff as last year… which obviously means – I need to get my ass into gear, get my upgrade ad make sure I’m not in 6U again next February!

All I’ve got to do now is find somewhere new to live (Captain Douchebag – http://itsonlymeruth.tumblr.com/ is evicting me following a row over me drying my pants and bras on the radiators) and decide what shade of lipstick I’ll be wearing next season.

See you on the 12th for MSVR Masters.

R.x

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