Conquering the Mountain
Training and Certification - Part 1
Jessica Lowe had worked as the receptionist at Erebus Motorsport ever since the company was founded last year. She was experienced, knowledgeable and had a talent for the work that allowed her to anticipate the needs of the company and the protocols needed to address the situations that develop.
It was because of these talents that she was not at all fazed when Twilight Sparkle showed up with a second pony in her reception area with what looked like several sewing baskets and a dressmaker's dummy floating behind her.
“Twilight, you’re right on time,” said Lowe, checking her watch, “Who is your friend and does she need any assistance?”
“Good morning Jessica,” replied Twilight with a wave, “This is my friend, Rarity, she’ll be helping with the firesuit.”
“Excellent! The guy making the suit is in the conference room,” Lowe said as she pointed through the doors leading to the Erebus Motorsport offices, “I can escort your friend, you are needed in the upstairs classroom.”
Twilight gave her saddlebags a tap before climbing the stairs, “I’m all ready!”
Rarity permitted herself a ladylike chortle as she watched her friend ascend the stairs. Idly she wondered if Twilight had the same amount of enthusiasm when she was just a filly starting her education. Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, she followed Lowe to the Erebus conference room.
Sitting inside was a rather rotund man with several fabric samples, rough drawings and diagrams of generic persons needed to tailor a firesuit that would not only be a comfortable fit, but perform as expected during an emergency situation.
For Rarity, the problem was immediately apparent as all the diagrams were based around the human norm of people walking upright instead of on all fours. While Rarity had templates for some parts of the suit, it was immediately apparent that what she had envisioned as a utilitarian work outfit and what was required in the aspects of safety were two very different concepts.
Tim Hunt was the gentleman sitting in the conference room, when he saw a white unicorn waltz in with several objects floating behind her he knew that this was not going to be one of his usual fittings. His company, Renard Noir, had been outfitting amateur and professional teams with complete racing kits that exceeded the stringent safety standards set by CAMS. He was justifiably proud of the product that he produced and his work was sought after for its quality.
“Are you Twilight Sparkle, the pony I’m doing the fitting for?” Hunt asked.
“Oh no, Darling,” said Rarity, “Twilight asked me to come in and assist you in this endeavor, being that nobody has ever attempted something like this before. I’m Rarity, by the way”
“Tim Hunt,” replied Hunt automatically. As it was, Hunt was a little taken back by Rarity’s remark, while he knew that what he did was not the fine tailoring that you would find in London or Paris, but he was good at his job and his skills were in demand.
Reading the expression on Hunt’s face, Rarity continued. “The main problem with the general design is that you can’t put a human on all fours and call it a pony,now can you? I mean the bone and muscle structure are totally different and that doesn’t even begin to account for the limb to body ratio.”
“Am I correct to assume that you have a plan?” asked Hunt, dryly.
Rarity either didn’t notice Hunt’s attempts at being droll or generously chose to ignore it as she opened up her sewing kit and retrieved a blank generic diagram that was more suitable to Twilight’s form.
“I took the liberty of taking Twilight’s measurements yesterday afternoon,” she explained, “That along with some basic templates should be enough to allow us to start work”
Hunt rummaged through his own kit in search for his drawing pencil. With a few deft strokes, he had transferred and altered the general firesuit design from the standard human model to something more appropriate to an Equestrian.
Rarity was quietly observing her fellow clothier when she realised that she had forgotten something very important.
“Don’t forget to allow room for the wings,” she said, “Twilight can cast a fire charm on her tail to prevent it from getting singed, but her wings are too delicate for such heavy magic”
“What about having them covered with flaps on the outside of the suit,” said Hunt as he drew an example of his idea on the diagram, “That way, she won’t be hobbled and can still use her wings in an emergency.”
“How will you have the flaps secured?”
“The top part of the flap will be built into the suit for strength, that can cover the entire wing in a nice box. I can use velcro to adhere the bottom of the flat to the suit, all Twilight has to do is extend her wings and they’ll pop free.”
“What is this ‘Velcro’?, I’ve never encountered it before”
“I’m not surprised,” said Hunt, “Velcro is a synthetic fabric that is commonly used as a fastener in everyday clothing and apparel. It’s not something that a high end fashionista like yourself would have much of a need for, it’s rather cheap and not something that is seen on high end clothing.”
“Do you have any here, I’d like to see it?”
“I think I may have some in my kit” said Hunt as he began to rummage around for the elusive fabric, “Ah, here’s some.”
Hunt passed the small strip of fabric to Rarity, for her part, Rarity was initially unimpressed with the stiff fabric until she saw that she could manipulate it with her magic, experimentally tearing and resealing it several times.
“You were quite right, Mr Hunt,” said Rarity, “While I can see how useful this fabric could be, I would not have any use for it in my creations”
Rarity drew her attention back to the designs laid on the table before her. “How long will it take until you have something ready for a test fitting for Twilight?” she asked
“There isn’t much going on at the shop at the moment,” said Hunt, “In theory, I could have something in a couple of hours, but this is a brand new design and I’d be learning as I go. Honestly, it might take me a week to get something wearable”
Although he didn’t realise it, Hunt’s answer was inline with what Rarity wanted to hear. It would allow her to assist in creating a practical outfit for her friend while at the same time help a fellow clothier lay the groundwork for what could possibly be a new industry.
“Mr Hunt, it appears that between us, we have the knowledge, skills and facilities to complete this outfit by this afternoon”
Hunt gave Rarity’s offer careful thought, initially his ego demanded that he politely refuse her offer, however, intellectually he knew that while his skills were strong and any problems would eventually be overcome, being assisted by someone who already had an intimate knowledge of what issues he would face would mean that making the suit would be easier and the knowledge and techniques that he would learn would, at the very least, be useful in the future.
As a moderately successful businessman in a small and specialised market, Hunt also knew that such a chance may not come around a second time. Throwing caution to the wind, he offered Rarity a deal that he hoped would be mutually beneficial.
“Miss Rarity, as you noted, we have everything we need to complete your friend’s outfit in a few hours,” said Hunt, “My workshop is nearby, we take your designs and templates, we use my workshop and its equipment and pull out all the stops to get it finished by this afternoon.”
Hunt’s offer appealed to Rarity’s own sense of generosity as she quickly packed away her equipment. “How far is it to your workshop?” she asked
“Not far, only a couple of blocks away,” replied Hunt, “It’s so close, I didn’t even bother bringing my car”
“Then we best get moving if we are to have this suit made in time.” said Rarity as she exited the conference room, her equipment floating behind her with Hunt tripping over his own feet in an attempt to keep up with the Unicorn.
While Rarity was downstairs weaving her own brand of clothing magic, Twilight was receiving instruction on how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or she would if she had not arrived half an hour early.
While normally, Twilight being early to any class was a given and in this case it allowed her to meet a pair of interesting gentlemen.
Next to the room that was being used to teach was the Erebus breakroom. Inside there was nothing out of the ordinary or special about the room, like most Australian breakrooms, it contained an average sized fridge, a sink, a kettle, a table with a few chairs and a couple of employees making tea instead of working.
It was the sound of their conversation that drew Twilight’s attention and while her ability to recognise different people had improved with continued contact, she was sure that the pair in the breakroom were unknown to her.
The sound of Twilight’s hoof steps on the polished wooden floor drew the attention of the pair, as they turned to face her, the taller of the two in a calm and friendly voice.
“Hello there, you must be the new member of the pit crew,” said the taller one, “I’m Will and this is Lee.”
Twilight may not have been able to recognise their faces, but she had reviewed as much information on the V8 Supercars as she could gather and the mention of the names was the final piece of this particular identity puzzle.
“Oh, you’re the drivers, Lee Holdsworth and Will Davison!” said Twilight, “I’ve been reading up on your biographies”
Swallowing a mouthful of tea, Holdsworth looked Twilight up and down. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” he said.
Realising her faux pas. During her site induction, she had met many members of the pit crew, race engineers and office administrative staff but had never crossed paths with the drivers until now.
“I’m Twilight Sparkle from Equestria” Twilight said, using a mid range formal introduction. What she didn’t expect was Holdsworth to start coughing in his tea.
“Twilight Sparkle, that’s an interesting name,” said Holdsworth as he choked back another cough, “It’s rather descriptive.”
Twilight didn’t know what to make of Holdsworth’s remarks. She felt that she was being mocked but in the interests of diplomacy and lacking proof one way or another, she let it slide.
“I don’t mean to sound rude,” began Davison, “But how can you help in the pits?”
Since her encounter with the pit crew during her induction, Twilight, with the assistance of the Diplomatic Service, had the perfect answer ready.
“Well I do have a few skills that are useful,” Twilight said as she used her magic to open her saddlebag and remove a ceramic mug that was coloured to look like a jar of the popular spread ‘Vegemite’ and a small container given to her by the Diplomatic Service.
Opening the container, Twilight removed a single tea bag before resealing the container and returning it to her saddlebag. Simultaneously, she filled her mug with the still hot water from the kettle before adding the tea bag to let it seep. She did this without taking her eyes off Davison.
To his credit, Davison did not stammer or show surprise at Twilight’s display of magic, instead he calmly took a sip of his tea and said, “Yeah, that’s useful.”
Twilight took a sip of her freshly brewed tea, savoring both the taste and the feeling of satisfaction over her little demonstration. Any further conversation however was halted before it could begin as a middle aged lady poking her head into the break room.
“Are you three here for the CPR course?” she asked, “We’re all set up and ready to start”
Twilight followed the two drivers into the room that had been set aside for the lesson, the room itself was normally used for post race analysis, engineering presentations and general brainstorming.
On this day, the many tables were arranged into rows facing a whiteboard that was secured to the far wall, spread out over the room were three blue CPR dummies with a fourth placed on a desk at the front of the room. Taking a seat at a desk with a CPR dummy, Twilight opened her saddlebag and withdrew what was commonly referred to in Equestria as a Scholars Kit that contained quills, ink and parchment in a convenient travel case.
The instructor stood at the front of the whiteboard and faced the trio, “I’m Emma Triggs. I’ll be instructing you on CPR and basic fire extinguisher use,” Triggs began, “Because we have such a small class today, we should get through both by lunchtime. We’ll start with CPR and make sure that everybody is competent before moving onto fire extinguishers and indulging in our inner Fireman fantasies.
“Before we start, I must remind you that these techniques are only applicable to humans. Miss Sparkle, you would have to see an Equestrian instructor for certification to perform CPR on Equestrians.
What followed next was, for Twilight at least, a complete, comprehensive and a fascinating explanation of how to safely perform CPR. However, the instruction was not without its own notable and amusing instances.
The first came about a third of the way into the instruction when the group was learning how to find and measure a pulse rate.
Twilight gave the exercise some thought, she knew that while her hoof was hard, it was still sensitive enough to pick up the small vibrations of her own pulse. Whether she was able to detect a pulse in a human was another matter.
Looking over at the two drivers, Twilight saw that they were in the beginnings of contorting themselves into a human sized knot with Davison attempting to take Holdsworth’s pulse at his neck while Holdsworth was trying to find Davison’s pulse on his free wrist.
“Good news, Lee. You’re not a zombie!” said Davison as he eventually found Holdsworth’s pulse
“And judging by this,” replied Holdsworth as he gently applied pressure to Davison’s wrist, “You do have a heart!”
Twilight was curious as to how the pair were using their own appendages to measure each other’s pulse and eager to see if she was able to detect a human’s pulse through her hooves. Crossing the room to the drivers, Twilight politely coughed to get their attention.
“Mind if I try?” asked Twilight to Holdsworth
Holdsworth gave a nod and guided Twilight’s hoof to the spot on his neck where his pulse was at its strongest.
“Now push down a little bit,” Holdsworth instructed, “Can you feel it?”
Beneath her hoof, Twilight could feel the driver's steady pulse. Letting out a giggle at how the situation was awkward and yet at the same time, a wondrous learning experience.
The next incident was amusing more for its slapstick humour rather than the subject that was being taught, in this case, putting a person into the recovery position.
“Earlier, we discussed putting someone into the recovery position,” said Triggs, “Now we will practice that manoeuvre. Will, you shall play the part of the victim and Lee will roll you into position. Twilight, you will be after Lee.”
Holdsworth followed as Davison strode to the front of the room before collapsing in an overly dramatic fashion, Twilight gave it 4 out of 10 as she had seen Rarity do better. Holdsworth gave his own opinion in the form of pretending to kick the prostrate form of his teammate.
“Here is the scenario,” began Triggs, “Will has collapsed; you have checked for danger and have gotten no response from him. He is breathing and has a pulse, so you now have to roll him into the recovery position.
“First, take the arm that is furthest from you and move it away from the body at a right angle. Next take the arm closest to you and place it across the body. Put your left hand behind Will’s knee and your right on his shoulder, gently roll him away from you making sure that his airway is clear.”
Holdsworth knelt beside Davison and followed Triggs instructions as they were being said and successfully completed the manoeuvre, Triggs had Davison return to his original position and for Twilight to take Holdsworth's place.
“No magic, Twilight,” said Triggs, “When the time comes, you may not be in a position to use magic, so you have to do it by hoof.”
Twilight had no problems with using her hooves instead of magic, however being a good deal stronger than the average human did mean that when it came time to roll Davison onto his side… She went a little overboard.
“Too much roll!” came the muffled complaint from Davison as his face was mashed into the carpet.
Holdsworth switched positions with his co-driver so that Davison could complete the exercise and the instruction could continue.
Finally the trio had reached the practical assessment. After the recovery position exercise, Twilight was understandably hesitant about exerting too much force on the training dummy but she was confident that she could apply the correct amount pressure when required.
“To help you with the rhythm of your compressions there are two music pieces to select from,” said Triggs, “The first is ‘Staying Alive’ by the Bee Gees and the other is ‘Another one bites the Dust’ by Queen”
Triggs never got the chance to ask which song the group wanted as Holdsworth and Davison gave her a stern look and said “Queen.”
Twilight was naturally unfamiliar with either song but judging by the reaction from the driving pair, she felt that it was in her best interests to follow their lead, so she meekly she said “Queen?”
Triggs set up a small CD player with the chosen song and within seconds a fast, yet at the same time constant, guitar and drum beat began. With the music as a guide, Twilight had no trouble keeping a steady rhythm although after the first minute, she noticed that Holdsworth and Davison were beginning to show signs of fatigue.
By the second minute of the song, Twilight could see that both drivers were breathing heavily and beginning to lose their rhythm by missing the occasional beat but were still able to continue.
When the song ended, Twilight had worked up a mild sweat but was otherwise okay and ready to continue with the instruction. Holdsworth and Davison on the other hand had collapsed and were gasping for breath and complaining about how exhausted they were.
For Twilight, it showed the marked physical differences between an alicorn of average fitness and a human athlete.
“Now that you’ve all done the final exercise,” began Triggs with what could only be described as an evil grin, “We’ll start the practical assessment right away!”
Over the panting that Holdsworth and Davison were making, Twilight could hear one of the pair make out a pained whine, while the other let out a groan that reminded her of the last time Spike had a stomach ache.
After the drivers had stopped complaining and composed themselves, the assessment commenced. Compared to the previous exercise, it was as easy as DRABCD and they only had to perform compressions for around 30 seconds before Triggs ended the assessment.
“Lady and Gentlemen, from what I’ve seen in the skills demonstrated before me today,” she began, “I deem you competent to perform CPR.”
Twilight mulled over the formality of Trigg’s wording, Davison thrust both fists into the air and exclaimed “YES!” while Holdsworth giggled at his co-driver’s actions.
“Go have a quick Smoko break and be back here for the fire extinguisher training.” Said Triggs
Twilight picked up her saddlebags and followed Holdsworth and Davison out of the room she wondered, ‘What was Smoko?’
Smoko as it turned out was an uniquely Australian expression for a short break from work or study to hurriedly get some food and drink before returning to work or study, and as with many things unique to Australia, the definition of ‘short’ was also flexible.
Returning to the break room, Davison made a beeline to the refrigerator while Holdsworth put on the kettle and Twilight pulled out an apple and a pear to munch on.
“I can barely feel my arms,” said Davison from inside the refrigerator, “I don’t think I could have survived another exercise.”
Watching the kettle, Holdsworth nodded in agreement, “I know that we’re not Ironmen,” he said, “but it’s not like we’re out of shape”
Twilight was giving the pair funny looks. Compared to some stallions such as Big Mac, their build would be considered to be somewhere between ‘slight’ and ‘Give them food before they waste away!’
As the kettle heated up the water, Holdsworth prepared two fresh mugs for himself and Davison, he tipped out and rinsed Twilight’s novelty mug as well. When the kettle boiled, he filled the three mugs and made tea on the bench while trying to work out how to transport them to the table.
“So, what’s next?” asked Twilight as she used her magic to lift all three mugs from the bench to the table, “I know that we are doing Fire Extinguishers, but will we be using extinguishers?”
“More than likely,” said Davison as he took a sip of his tea, “There is a good chance that we’ll get to practice using the type for fuel”
“Isn’t there an industrial bin full of paper and cardboard out the back of the engine shop?” asked Holdsworth with a cheeky grin
That grin quickly disappeared under the stern stares of Davison and Twilight, Davison because the idea was reckless and more than a little stupid while Twilight considered the action to be an unnecessary waste of kindling for the fireplace.
Davison finished his tea and said, “Once more into the breach, dear friends”
“I’d sooner, ‘Once more onto the beach’!” replied Holdsworth
Twilight didn’t have a clue what the pair were talking about, but she was sure that it didn’t involve her… She hoped.
Returning to the classroom after their smoko break, Twilight once again prepared her scholars kit for another comprehensive instruction session.
While Twilight knew what fire was, she would have been hard pressed to explain it to another pony. She knew about the three factors that were required to sustain a flame, but was honestly stunned when she was told about a fourth element.
“The ignition source,” said Triggs, “While heat, Oxygen and Fuel will sustain a fire, without a source of ignition a fire cannot start”
Twilight wondered what Equestrian designers and engineers would be able to do with this tidbit of information before her attention was drawn back to Triggs instruction.
“The type of fuel that feeds the fire determines what type of extinguisher you use,” said Triggs, “We break the fire down into 5 different fuel types”
Triggs handed out detailed matrixes that outlined the fuel types of Paper and wood, Flammable liquids, Combustible gases, Electrically energised equipment and Cooking oils and fats against the effectiveness of various types of fire extinguishers.
“In motorsport you will mostly deal with flammable liquids like petrol,” Triggs said, “However, it is important to familiarise yourselves with what extinguisher type is use on which fire”
Triggs then went into greater detail on what type of extinguisher was to be used on each type of fire. This was of great interest to Twilight, equestrian methods of fighting fire was limited to either water or sand.
Twilight was fascinated by the simple, but effective method of identifying which fire extinguisher was suited to which type of fire. Each extinguisher had a different coloured band around the body that made it easy to identify in emergency situations.
To Twilight’s surprise, that brought the theory section to a close. What was not surprising was Triggs passing out multiple choice examination sheets, like her workplace induction, the questions were designed to show that the person who was taking the test had a solid understanding of what was being taught, but not in an overly academic way.
Quickly completing the examination, Holdsworth, Davison and Twilight began to relax thinking that they had finished with this particular educational unit, a look on Trigg’s face told them otherwise.
Throughout her academic career, Twilight was used to seeing a few strange looks on her fellow students faces, the last time she saw a look even remotely similar to the grin that was spreading across Trigg’s face was when an aspiring chemistry student tried his hoof at cooking!
“Now that the theory is completed,” said Triggs, “We can start on the fun stuff.”
Twilight couldn’t help herself, “What is the fun stuff?” she asked
“We’re going to play with fire!”
Triggs hustled the trio out to the front of Erebus Motorsport and towards a seldom used area of bare concrete. Sitting on the concrete was an interesting setup consisting of a series of gas rings that looked like they belonged inside a BBQ wielded inside a sturdy steel frame. The frame itself was sitting on four heat resistant bricks so that it was suspended above the concrete.
The gas cylinders that fueled the contraption were safely located several meters away, connected via a gas line that had a quick cutoff valve at either end as well as the valve on the cylinder itself.
To Twilight, it looked like good example of Earth Pony manufacturing, simple, solid and reliable.
“Lee will go first, then Will and Twilight last,” said Triggs as she started her safety talk, “Until it is your turn for assessment, please stay back.”
Davison casually moved towards the shade of a nearby tree that was in the opposite direction from the testing rig. Twilight quickly followed Davison, like most ponies, she was uncomfortable around large fires. Every foal was taught that fur, feathers and fire don’t mix.
Holdsworth had his own little secret… He only played dumb. There aren’t that many drivers in the V8 Supercars and to be able to hold a driving contract, you have to be more than a competent driver with all the fast reflexes, but able to interpret what a Supercar need to be able to perform and to explain such to engineers while at the same time being able to understand the engineers when they talk about modifications done to the car.
When Triggs had lit the gas burners and signalled him to start, he had already gone over the procedure that he had only just learnt and his course of action several times.
Before he picked up the waiting CO2 extinguisher he pulled the safety pin and gave the handle a quick test squeeze, releasing a burst of snow from the cone shaped nozzle before aiming at the base of the test flames and giving the handle a full squeeze.
A few passes of the nozzle spraying its white cloud and the burners were safely extinguished and Triggs turned the valves to stop the gas.
Davison was next and his actions mirrored Holdsworth, although his own reflexes being a fraction slower than his co-driver. When it was Twilight’s turn, her close attention to what Holdsworth and Davison were doing served her well, but it was not without a surprise or two.
The first, and easily correctable surprise, was that Twilight wasn’t prepared for the small amount of recoil from the extinguisher when she tested it. The second was that as the nozzle cooled and frosted over, Twilight had some minor problems with aiming the extinguisher.
Although she overcame both these difficulties and successfully completed the practical. She was understandably unhappy with how she performed.
“Emma,” said Twilight, “Can I do the practical again?”
Triggs considered Twilight's request for a moment. “Sure, just give me a minute to relight everything and reset your extinguisher.”
Once everything had been relit and reset, Twilight started the practical for the second time. In this instance, the problems that she encountered on the first run were not only anticipated, but compensated for.
Her second run was flawless and Twilight was justifiably proud of herself, and judging from the polite applause coming from Holdsworth and Davison, they also felt that she had improved her performance.
With her emotions swinging from embarrassed to stunned, Twilight decided to take the middle ground and accept that the applause was genuine and to respond with a formal, opened wing bow.
Had Holdsworth or Davison been aware of Equestrian etiquette or courtly protocols, they would have realised that Twilight had paid the pair a high compliment, rarely seen outside of the Royal Palace in Canterlot.
“That’s it for me,” said Triggs as she approached the drivers, “All three of you have shown that you can use a fire extinguisher in a safe and competent manner as well as knowledge of the theoretical side of extinguisher usage, identification and management.”
“What’s next?” asked Twilight, eager to continue
Davison smiled at Twilight before revealing what was next on the schedule.