Hands-On Hints #3
Staying On Track

Submitted by Mike Ahlee, San Diego County Director

mike ahlee

One of the most painful things we see as proctors is when someone goes into total brain fade. It's like your computer has locked up. No matter what you do, the screen never changes. Sometimes people will actually stand motionless and stare at the backflow prevention assembly for 10, 15 - even 20 minutes. The longer this condition continues, the harder it is to recover and get back on track. If it continues too long, the proctor is required to terminate the exam. Here is one way to get over that wall, should you hit it.

Memorizing test procedures without understanding the hydraulic and mechanical nature of what you are doing is a very bad idea. However, there are some things you should commit to memory before your practical exam for the purpose of getting back on track in the event you go into brain fade. If you look at the written copy of the ABPA test procedures, you will notice that each individual test component is numbered, i.e. Test #1, Test #2 etc. This is followed by the word 'Purpose" and a brief description of what piece of information you are after. In the RP procedure, there are only three tests. If you commit the purpose statement to memory, you can use that statement as a reminder if you go blank. Just restate the purpose to yourself and that should put you back on track.

Here's how it works…..You've just hooked hoses to an RP assembly. You did all the preliminary steps, flushed test cocks, bled the air out of the hoses and gauge, closed the #2 shutoff valve, made a note of the apparent pressure drop across the #1 check and "Aaaah, Aaaah, Aaah, Oh, yeah, the purpose of the 1st test is to test the operation of the differential pressure relief valve."

Now at least you know what is supposed to be tested. Of course, you still have to come up with the proper procedures, but at least you're not totally lost. Once you get past that hurdle, move on to Test #2. Purpose: To test the #2 check valve for tightness against backpressure. This one almost tells you what to do, i.e. put backpressure on the #2 check valve. The double check test has only two purposes to remember, as does the PVB.

Sometimes all you need is a little push to get started. This little bit of information may be all it takes to reboot the computer and get back on the right track. Give it a try, it couldn't hurt.

Happy testing!


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Comments to denise@socalabpa.org
Revised 06/16/2005 5:00 PM