Eddie Smillie is a Fire Instructor who joined Clyde Training Solutions (CTS) at its launch in 2016.

We spoke to Eddie to find out more about his background in the Navy before joining CTS, and how he uses that experience to ensure delegates leave us as knowledgeable as possible.

What was your career background before joining CTS

I joined the Royal Navy in 1987 and spent 6 years serving in total, with 4 and a half years onboard the HMS Ark Royal.

All Royal Navy personnel need to do basic sea training before joining their first ship but in 1990 I also did the advanced firefighting course as I was working as part of the ships fire party. This involved being a Fire Team Leader, taking a team of 4 fire fighters into an incident. I would also help at the scene of the incident with BA control, manpower and available resources.

The standout memory of my time in the Royal Navy would be when we were deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean in 1991 for surveillance of the Suez Canal for 9 months during the first Gulf conflict.

What made you join CTS?

After leaving The Royal Navy, I wanted to put my experience to good use and teaching seemed an obvious way to achieve this.

I worked for 15 years with a training company based in Portsmouth, which was a fantastic grounding in learning how to communicate with delegates not only from the Royal Navy but also from the civilian sector, which I felt opened a whole new and different approach to my teaching but with the same outcome, to ensure they understood what I was teaching and why.

I then spent 2 years with a training company in Glasgow, which gave me a bit more insight into the civilian market during which time a lot of changes were starting to be introduced into all aspects of training and refresher training.

And like many within the training industry I was intrigued by the announcement and building of the CTS training centre in 2015/16 which promised to provide training for delegates working in the Offshore, Marine and Renewables sectors all on one site. For a trainer this was an exciting project to get into from ground level. To help build the company from infancy and expand my own knowledge and expertise by taking on new challenges like OPITO training.

This was, and still is, unique in central Scotland, and I’m very proud of the job the team have done in five years and look forward to where we will be in the future.

What would you consider a qualified delegate when they leave us?

First, I have to say that every course I instruct, it is never about me. It is the delegates course, and every delegate is important.

It is not enough to simply know the facts about training, we as instructors have to feel confident that each and every delegate who undertakes training with us is confident in applying that knowledge.

I try to make sure I am never singling anyone out as not performing, but I am happy to take people aside who may be struggling and just give them that little extra help to gain that confidence.

At the end of the day, it is important not just for their safety, but also the safety of their colleagues, and it fits closely with our mantra at CTS of Competency Beyond Compliance – ensuring everyone leaves with not just a certificate, but the confidence to act in the case of an emergency.

How has COVID affected you personally?

From a personal point of view, COVID has been horrendous. I unfortunately suffer from arthritis which means that COVID could affect me more acutely, and I have had to shield.

This meant I spent a period of time on furlough, which involved working from home with the specific focus of developing new courses.

A great example of this was a request from a major client to deliver the classroom element of the Updated Advanced Fire Fighting course via webinar. This requires a reworking of the course module to allow users to be able to follow remotely and confidentiality.

COVID has shown us that many people possess the technology to be able to access classrooms virtually, and the move towards blended learning is gathering pace, but as instructors we need to ensure that safety is never compromised by the desire for immediacy.

What have been the ups and downs of working from home?

I’ve enjoyed the chance to step back and focus my attention on the development of new courses, which can be hard when you are juggling training commitments, but also to be able to stop and think about what training will look like over the next 5 years.

But of course I missed my colleagues and the chance to interact with delegates each day, I didn’t get quite the same level of chat from my dog, and it’s great to be back in the classroom, playing my part.