Daily Record Profile on CTS Survival Instructor Susi Rumpel

The following text appeared in an article published in the Scottish Daily Record on Monday 4th December - http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/former-holiday-resort-wo...

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Former holiday resort worker gives up life of luxury to train offshore workers in North Sea

Scuba-diving expert Susi Rumpel used to work in luxury holiday resorts in the Red Sea – now she trains oil rig and ofshore workers how to survive in emergency situations.

Susi had planned to travel the globe working in glamorous sun-drenched locations. But she gave it all up to settle in Scotland after meeting her fiance.

The South African diver now lives in Galston, Ayrshire, and works for Clyde Training Solutions, giving workers in the energy industry the skills they need should the worst happen offshore.

She uses a specially designed underwater simulator to demonstrate how to escape should a helicopter suddenly plunge into the North Sea.

Susi, 42, said: “We have to prepare for every scenario and that involves getting the workers inside the simulator and showing them how to evacuate while submerged upside down.

“We teach them how to prepare for impact and get out as safely as possible.

“It can be pretty scary for some people who don’t like being underwater, but it’s a hugely important part of the training.

“When the machine is spun upside down, it’s hard not to feel disorientated. But the trick – as always – is not to panic and to follow the bubbles.

“In the North Sea, where winter water temperatures can drop as low as six degrees, it’s imperative they know to get into the life-raft and get the canopy up as soon as possible.

“Apart from stopping water entering, this roof also dramatically reduces the amount of potentially fatal wind chill that survivors would have to bear out on the open sea.

“It’s about knowing the best possible skills to save lives.”

Susi fell in love with deep sea diving as a child and went on to become a qualified instructor years later while working in Mozambique.

But it was while working in Egypt that she had her most dangerous moment. She saved the life of a man during an uncontrolled assent to the surface.

Susi said: “I took a father and his daughter scuba-diving and everything seemed pretty routine.

“We were in open water and everything was going well. We were down about six metres when the man started to struggle and began to surface too quickly.

“By the time he hit the surface, he was unconscious and not breathing.

“It was pretty frightening, but I dragged him on to a boat and managed to resuscitate him as his daughter looked on.

“It turned out he’d suffered a brain aneurysm the previous year and lied about it on his medical forms. If we had known about his history, he would never have been able to do the dive.

“The pressure obviously impacted him more than it would anyone else. It was far too dangerous, but thankfully he pulled through.”

Offshore safety instructor Susi is based at Clyde Training Solution’s campus in Clydebank, near Glasgow, which is close to the former site of John Brown shipyard and is the first of its kind in Scotland.

It has classrooms, a training pool, HUET (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training module) and a fire training ground, complete with helideck.

Despite travelling to exotic locations all over the world, Susi says she’s finally settled in Scotland and is already planning a dive in the North Sea.

She added: “I’ve had the privilege of diving in some stunning places but I’ve yet to dive in the North Sea.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m going to make it happen.”

Susi, who also helps to train air ambulance crews, spends up to five days a weeks teaching life-saving skills and has enjoyed a 100 per cent pass rate on her course.

She said: “Most people are happy to get on with it, but one or two are uncomfortable when the simulator turns 180 degrees underwater.

“You have to be alert when you are training people underwater. Something can happen at any time and you have to be ready.”