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Emergency Response Diving International is the most advanced
training agency for professional public safety diving!
ERDi Code of Ethics
Decision Making - Risk Vs Benefits
Recreational Vs Emergency Response Diving
Rescue Vs Recovery Diving
Stress - Physical and Psychological
Pre - Dive Investigation and Scene Set Up
Preparation for the operation
Signals - Top side / Underwater / Rope
Commitment to continued team education, training exercises, and equipment
WHY DO DEPARTMENT DIVE TEAMS NEED PU
BLIC SAFETY TRAINING?
BLIC SAFETY TRAINING?
A Typical Scenario: It is when the dispatcher turns in the call for a car overturned in the river. Two local firemen who are
also divers jump in a pick up truck loaded with the dive gear from yesterday's recreational dive and drive to the scene. Upon
arrival they immediately suit up and jump into the river to effect rescue. As soon as they step into the water they notice
that the current is much faster than they expected and the water is much colder. The first diver uses the current and drifts
to the car and grabs on while the second follows. The first diver crawls inside the open passenger door to search for the
victim. As the second diver reaches the car his recreational gear becomes entangled on the vehicle. His additional drag
causes the car to shift and roll in the current. He travels down stream in the current and catches an overhanging tree
branch. The first diver is effectively trapped in the car only three feet from the surface. When public safety officials arrive
they immediately commence a surface rescue procedure to retrieve the second diver / would be rescuer from the tree
branch. They also called for a dive team from a neighboring county to rescue the first diver in the car. Unfortunately
by the time the dive team arrives their rescue is a body recovery. The driver of the car comes back to the scene with the
Highway Patrol Officer just as they pull the body of the first diver from the water. The driver had escaped from the vehicle
and walked to a neighboring house to call the Highway Patrol.
The efforts of these well intentioned but under trained divers resulted in a needless fatality and putting numerous other
professionals at needless risk. The scene portrayed here is fiction, but, scenes like it happen every year. The reason is not
really a lack of training, that is a symptom. The real reason is the failure of administrators to realize the need for specialized
training and equipment in the field of Public Safety Diving.
Before starting a dive team, each department must weigh the cost of accomplishing the task properly versus the benefit
for the community. What will your community gain? Are other resources available to accomplish the same goals. If you
decide a dive team is necessary then please decide to adequately equip and train that team. This information will give
you the questions you should ask about the training you will receive.
Do you need Public Safety Training? Diving is a specialized activity taking place in a hazardous environment. That is
why even recreational divers require certification to access equipment, air fills, and dive sites. That recreational
certification (called open water) qualifies divers to dive in reasonably calm, clear conditions, at depths not to exceed 60
feet. In the recreational diving industry that certification is frequently referred to as a permit to learn, just as a learner's
permit is issued to a person completing high school driver education. We do not allow a learning driver to drive without
supervision, much less operate an emergency vehicle in route to an accident or fire scene. Yet many departments feel
that open water training qualifies the diver to dive in the hazardous environments encountered by the Public Safety Dive
Many teams have fallen victim to the Rescue Diver Certification farce. Recognizing the need for additional training the
administrator seeks out "professional assistance" from the local dive store. The dive store instructor provides all that
he is able to provide, a recreational certification as a Rescue Diver. Most recreational training agencies define their
Rescue Diver Course as a self and buddy rescue program. This is adequate for helping your buddy who gets in trouble
at 45 feet on the coral reef in the Keys, but not much assistance in the Public Safety Environment.
The diving environment qualifies in every area as a HAZMAT site. Add fuels and oils from a submerged vehicle and we
have put multiple hazardous chemicals around the diver. Additionally, those chemicals will destroy the divers life support
system if they are inadequate for the job. Place the diver inside the vehicle to do a recovery and we have added confined
space rescue in a HAZMAT environment to the picture. How many department administrators would take a person off
the street with no formal training and place them in that situation above water? Applied to other areas, imagine taking
a person off the sidewalk handing them bunker gear and sending them into a burning building or sending a person to do
hostage negotiation with only the information found in over the counter magazines. Yet, almost daily, departments do
just that with department dive team members or even bystanders that happen to dive. Is this an invitation to disaster?
Should you ask the members of your department to accept or even volunteer to be a part of this potential disaster?
So how do you select and understand the type of training you are getting? When considering initial training for
your dive team you will probably be limited to two sources - sport certification instructors and agencies that specialize
in training public safety divers. The other limited but possible resource is a technical agency instructor with specialized
experience in rescue operations. The advantage to sport instruction is cost and availability. The drawback is an
instructional program which generally prohibits the training of professional diving activities or any diving activity outside
the traditional recreational limits. The training focuses on avoiding the situations the public safety diver will encounter on
90% of all calls. Additionally the instructor probably lacks any public safety experience.
From a liability perspective, this may place the department in an indefensible position if training is questioned.
From a safety perspective we have created an accident waiting for a scene. These factors are addressed by hiring public
safety diving instructional specialist with verifiable credentials and experience. The drawback is availability, since local
resources frequently don't exist. In Des Moines Iowa, this is not the case! For other areas, that lack of availability will
probably increase cost. The department must decide if the increased safety and reduced liability are worth a few extra
dollars. That is part of the team's obligation.
How do you qualify the instructor?
The first question to ask is what are the instructor’s qualifications? What technical, rescue, or public safety diving
certification courses can the instructor teach? Are those courses certified through a recreational training agency? If so,
does the agency also endorse the training of professional public safety divers? Is the training NFPA and OSHA
compliant (not compliant with some perceived provisional exemption!)?
Next, contact the certifying agency of the instructor.
Ascertain: 1. Does the agency endorse the training of professional or commercial divers for Public Safety Operations;
2. Does the instructor’s insurance cover him for teaching these types of activities;
3. If the agency finds that their training is questioned in court does the certifying agency have any training
standard or provision which would indicate the Public Safety Diver was diving beyond the realm of his
certification and training;
4. You may also want to verify the certification level and reputation of the specific instructor with whom
you are dealing.
- Adventure Diving