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Do dive teams accept volunteers?

Discussion in 'Public Safety Divers/Search and Rescue' started by Hostage, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. Hostage

    Hostage Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Rochester, NY
    I am a "rescue" certified diver w/ a my own gear and a dry suit. Do local PDs or FDs take volunteers? I also am an experienced boater.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. muddiver

    muddiver Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: West Coast USA
    No, you are not an employee, therefore not covered under their insurance. The exception are all volunteer rescue teams like the San Bernardino Search & Rescue team, even then you have to pass all the requirements that a sworn Deputy does. Also, a recreational scuba "Rescue" class is not the same training that a Public Safety Diver goes through.
  3. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    What Muddiver said is essentially correct, although I know a number of Sherriff's departments, fire departments, and others that allow you to carry a reserve commission to be on the dive rescue team. With that said, do you really really want this? First, rescue diver isn't really a start. You need Public Safety Diver training for a start. On volunteer teams, you are on the hook for that, and it's usually very expensive. Then, having your own gear isn't all that, because, like DIR divers, the team is probably all using the same gear, so you'll need to buy what they have. Then, you'll usually be searching for bodies in mudpits and cold dark high flow rivers.

    Being on a search and recovery team is a calling, not a way to get free diving down at the quarry for practice. If that is what you are into, go for it. Don't expect it to be inexpensive, though. You might find a couple of resort vacations per year to be a lot less money.
    oly5050user likes this.
  4. UWPhotoKeith

    UWPhotoKeith Rebreather Pilot

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: NorCal - Santa Rosa
    Our Sheriffs team is all volunteer and we all use the gear bought and serviced by the department except for mask and fins when we are not in full face masks. We have a wide variety of folks on the team from those with only open water experience to tech/rebreather instructors to those with public safety experience and training. Bottom line is I am sure you will find many incarnations of public safety dive teams. Our team used to only be open to sheriffs employees but that all changed after the recession. As was previously mentioned, you will go through some type of vetting process ie background check etc. This is the second team I have been on, the first was when I was a new diver and part of a fire department. The training and drills in zero vis for sure made me a much better diver, but it is not for everyone. Check with your local team(s) it may be something you could do a "ride along" and find out what is required and see if its your cup of tea.
  5. Nwcid

    Nwcid Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: NE WA
    Depends on where you life and what the set up is. Odds are if you live where there are full time departments providing this service it will be unlikely you can join.

    I live in a very rural area and have a fully volunteer dive team. The GF and I are both members. We are covered under the sheriff department when we are "deployed" but we are responsible for having all of our own gear and maintaining it. If anything is damaged during a training or call out we can submit a claim for it.
  6. abdelhub

    abdelhub Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: puget sound
    In my agency you must be a sworn employee. I think the liability is too great to take on volunteers. Still the skills are a huge bonus to whoever your dive buddy is. The more experienced the better.

  7. sheeper

    sheeper Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States
    this varies from agency to agency. Some dive teams are all volunteer. Some teams are mixed. Others are all professional. You should ask in your area. I know that the Rochester PD runs a dive team. Last I saw them, the team was sworn personnel only. (good team and some great guys there. too cold for me though!).
    To be a public safety diver takes some specific training. A recreational "rescue" diver is the least of it. Check out ERDI, the leading PSD training agency in the world.

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