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Public Safety Divers

Discussion in 'Public Safety Divers/Search and Rescue' started by Scubadawg, Apr 21, 2003.

  1. nyresq

    nyresq Barracuda

    snow bear says:

    My FD uses the above mentioned LifeGuardSystems for PSD qualifications. The members I have dove with on a recreational basis tend to sink like rocks, wallow on the bottom (as they are trained to do while searching by feel a muddy lake bottom while tethered to a surface tender who signals when to advance, search left, search right, etc...). These same divers seem to think a safety stop is optional no matter what the dive profile. Light - we don't need no steenkin' dive light - but I got 3 cutting tools and a pony bottle - does that count? How come I end up leading these dives even though most of these divers are more "experienced" and "qualified" than I am?

    PSD training doesn't make you a wreck diver or even a better swimmer... your right, PSD teaches you to sink to the bottom and work through the muck. Thats the idea, dead bodies are either on the surface or on the bottom, not hovering 4 feet off the dirt. And your PSD training states a diver is down for no more than 15 minutes, then he's out for R&R. LGS also teaches a max rescue depth of 40- 60 feet depending on the terrain underwater, at that depth 15 minutes is well within time limits, and since you don't send another in to search untill the first is out, you don't want to be waiting for the first to do a 5 min safety stop. he goes down, he searches, hes up and out. Next divers in. We are talking about saving lives here, not checking out the local aquatic life.
    As far as qualified, you don't seem to know a whole lot about Public safety diving and have not been trained as such, so while you mention "qualified" and "experience" you are talking about two very different fields. There are guys I dive on the team with, who should not be wreck diving out in the atlantic cause they don't have the qualifications or the experience to do so, yea they would be kicking up silt and knocking into things and don't know the first thing about deco gas or nitrox and would get bent if they dove past 90 feet. They aren't recreational divers that are diving wrecks in the atlantic every weekend or twice a year in cozumel for a week each time, but I'll put them up against any gary gentile or dan berg when it comes to finding a body in the bottom of a drainage sump or marina. One has nothing to do with the other. You're comparing your skill and experience as a recreational diver with someone elses skill as a PSD. Apples and Oranges.
    If your divers when diving recreationally (is that a word?) are sinking to the dirt and floundering around trying to swim in the mud, thats not the fault of their training, that them not knowing how to dive outside a PDS type of scenario. It sounds like they think they can take the gear used for PSD and go out for the weekend with it. If its properly set up for PSD, then its the last configuration you would use for rec diving.
    So if they can't tell the difference between a dive job callout, and a day at the quarry, then someone needs to sit them down, strap on their hockey helmets and teach them the difference. Otherwise from what you say, they are going to hurt them selves, and then you need a dive team...

    you can sit someone down in a class and teach them all day long, but they won't learn a damm thing untill THEY want to.

    And a phrase I like to use in the firehouse:
    "Just cause they got gear on the rack, it don't make 'em a firefighter"
    If you don't know what that means, then you haven't been in the FD for very long.:wink:
  2. Snowbear

    Snowbear NOK ScubaBoard Supporter

    ...I do know the difference. If you re-read my post - you will note I mentioned it was the way they were trained (by LGS). So basically, that was the point of my post. If you want to use the Firefighter analogy, it's like a FF trained for wildland firefighting going to a structure fire. Apples and Oranges. The FF with 30yrs of Smoke jumper experience is going to consider himself a more experienced firefighter than I am with only 13 years under my belt. I will be crawling under the flames rolling above me in the smoky hallway to find the seat of the fire while he is thinking this is getting WAY too hot and wanting to back out. After moving back up here from California, I saw the same thing with structural FF's trying to deal with a wildland fire here. They were backing down and lost a lot of structures that likely should have been saved.
    As far as diving, other than the ex-military divers, these FD divers had a pre-requisite of AOW from any certification agency. After that, they got PSD training from LGS. 90% of these divers no longer dive outside the job. They got their AOW in a warm climate to meet the job requirements. A few got hooked and continue to dive recreationally (yes, I believe that's a word:wink: although I don't believe deco gas is considered recreational) Every single one of them considers themselves to have excellent skills under the water (after all, they were trained by LGS) and since most of them have more years since their initial cert than I and more training (since they were trained by LGS) they assume they are going to show me a thing or two in the water. On the other hand, LGS does NOT (at least how the local instructor teaches it) teach you that safety stops are no longer recommended if you dive in the non-PSD setting, does it? Just because you are LGS trained, does that mean you can diregard the prior OW, AOW or military you had before when you dive off the job?
    Anyhow, the point of my post was merely an indirect observation that perhaps their overall diving skills would benefit if they did more diving just to dive than just training and recovery dives (as I did in California as a FF doing both structural and wildland firefighting).

    As far as these guys not realizing the difference between a callout (or training) and a non recovery dive, I think they realized it when they dove with me. No-one (especially me) has to sit them down and tell them that. Their egos were still on the line though, so they are still more "experienced and qualified" than I will ever be.

    To conclude - I am sorry I offended you as a public safety diver with my post. I did not mean it that way. On the other hand, you're right, I know nothing about PSD since I have only been surface support and worked with the divers on a peripheral basis. I know what your phrase means though, have heard it before, but have only been in the fire service 13 years, so yes, I still have a lot to learn....
  3. nyresq

    nyresq Barracuda

    I took no offense to your post, I am a PSD and an avid wreck diver here in NY. What I was trying to point out is no PSD training will make you a better rec diver (and by "rec" I mean anything outside of PSD or commercial, including reef diving, cave diving, tech, deep and fun play in the quarry diving). When you say that LGS may have taught them that safety stops weren't required, well in the VERY specific setting of a PSD evolution, then yes they do, but only in that setting. When I was trained by Hendricks he made it very clear that techniques and theory he was teaching was NOT meant for anything outside of PSD. And since my original course, I have attended other courses that my guys have taken as an observer, to refresh my mind, and to learn any new developments since the last course. and every time the instructors have stressed that this course is not meant to crossover into your rec diving skills and techniques.
    But my whole point was, you can't blame the PSD training they got for them disregarding how to make a decent and safe rec dive. I was trying to stress that if they can't make a set protocol in their minds for two different types of dives, then they shoud stay out of the rec field of diving.
    And I think you misread my statement about "qualified" vs. "experience". I said that in one field (PSD) yes, they may be more "qualified" than you and by number of dives as a PSD they may have more "experience" than you, but ONLY in that field.
    As a rec diver you seem to be more "experienced" than them and if you discount the PSD qualification (which does not apply in the rec field to anything except egos) then your are probably alot more qualified than any of them.

    and as far as EGOs are concerened, your in the fire service bro, after 13 years I'm sure you know an EGO will just get you killed.

    be safe bro, thats the objective.
  4. tinman694

    tinman694 Angel Fish

    Wife and I are on call by pagers/radios--As we are both FF/EMTs as well..
    Mostly, we answer evenings/weekends--as we both have "real" jobs not related to fire service.
  5. Boater Dan

    Boater Dan Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Western PA
    I have just recently joined the scubaboard and am also a public safety diver. In my search for information, I had reviewed the post regarding IANTD and was wondering if you could provide me with some information regarding what this is?

    Only about 7 months too late, but I agree nearly 100% with what has been said to date. I will also admit that I am one of the undertrained PSD's. Why? Funding. We are in the process of applying for the Fire Fighter Assistance Grants to hopefully allow us to upgrade and standardize some of our equipment. At this point, I do not know if they are granting requests for this type of information. If you or anyone else has any insight into how we can procure funding or low cost training for PSD, WE WILL PURSUE (as opposed to other posts).

    There is one completely unknown factor in PSD with each individual and that is how they react under stress and critical situations. I have been a member of the fire service for 27 years and have been involved in life threatening situations, and am fortunately here to talk about them. I am able to remain calm and work through the problem. While training certainly helps prepare for the unexpected, how the person is mentally prepared to react to crisis is also a factor of survival. Just like driving a car, there are some people who should not ever be behind a wheel. Diving is no different.

    In another note, I wonder if there are sufficient PSD's to request to have a category established for that topic? I would also appreciate seeing any information, SOP's, activities, training, or any information on PSD that anyone would like to share.


  6. rmediver2002

    rmediver2002 Instructor, Scuba


    Hey Dan,

    Welcome to the group.

    IANTD developed a PSD training program about two years ago, you can talk to Bigjetdriver (one of the instructors) on this board or contact me off-line for a POC jlane@adp.fsu.edu

    There are a couple good groups on Yahoo for PSD information and LGS has a good newsgroup as well. (you can get registered on the LGS group from thier homepage)

    They just changed the name of the yahoo group but I think you can still pull it up under publicsafetydiversforum

    The guy that runs it also has a good monthly newsletter on PSD operations.

    Jeff Lane
  7. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    I’ve been a PSD with the department I work for sense October 1976. I was only one of two divers not employed full-time by the department and the only reason I got on was because of my Navy diving history. I was a dog handler and a reserve with the department.

    Back then we didn’t have issued cars. On our off duty time our personal vehicles were equipped with lights, radio and siren. But no more as we all have our own issue vehicles.

    I went full time in 1983. I have been in-charge of the team in the past for several years but I would rather leave that job to someone else.

    Today we have NO civilian members. It is just to hard to control them, deal with their employers, work out gear and insurance problems and make training mandatory.

    We are a team authorized for paid 10 members. The department purchases all equipment because to be on a rescue team ALL the gear NEEDS TO BE STANDARDAZIED. What in my patrol car is all personally owned except my suit as my gear conforms to policy. That gear can be used by the diver for anything but commercial work.

    A few years ago we opened up the team to outside agencies. We had people knocking down our doors trying to get on. It was something like 40 or 50 wanting to get on so the weeding out process started. Lucky for us, not the victims, we had a month from hell.

    To make a long story short we had 2 serious accidents the kept us busy for a solid month nearly 24-7. Never went in to do police work, just dive. Believe me, it gets old after a while. All in all we recovered 4 bodies and worked two murder investigations that had nothing to do with the 4 recoveries.

    When that month was over our applicant list went from a busload to not being able to fill all the seats in a compact car. We picked up one.

    About 10 or 15 of the applicants were on scene when we found a fisherman that had been missing for 16 month by accident. I could smell him underwater so you can imagine what he smelt like when he surfaced. That recovery is on video for those who can meet up with AquaDog or me. Do not ask for a copy. I do not want the family to accidentally see it, which I think you will understand.

    PSD diving is like “Solo diving”. If you have to ask someone if you’re ready to do it, you’re not.

    Some people think that taking a “Rescue” course makes them a rescue diver. It does, but you’re not a PSD. Trust me, those courses are only geared at teaching you more about yourself and how to better handle yourself in the water. It does not qualify you for PSD work.

    PSD training comes from several agencies. We are all as a minimum DSR-1 through Dive Rescue International. These classes are taxing and expensive so they are not for everyone.

    You can’t just go diving day in and day out and think you’re getting ready for the PSD business. It takes lots of training over a long period of time. Only half of our team is allowed to do most of what we do. The other half is still guided through some of the problems.

    Our last two years have been slow but some years have resulted in each of us hitting the water over 100 times in a callout situation. For activity like that you can’t try and hold down a civilian job.

    We are strict. But in the 28 years I’ve been with this department we have only had two minor accidents. Both of those were on the surface and were treated and released.

    We work in a very different world where we don’t have the luxury of getting plenty of sleep before a dive. Or planning your dive and diving your plan. We have to rely on computers to keep us safe. We didn’t use them for a lot of years but the sure have made it safer for us when we started using them.

    With enough training and “Proper and correct” practice you can arrive on scene and be in the water in less than 3 minutes which includes the pre-dive briefing.

    PSD’s aren’t anything special. We are just divers that are extremely comfortable in the water and have a calling to do a job most people don’t want to do.

    The team is one of the things keeping me from retiring from the department. Not only am I the oldest member but nobody on the team was born when I started diving and I have fun with that. They show up with Depends and I pull out the Pampers.

    It’s a good profession but a deeply dedicated one that you can not do just for the hell of it. If your not dedicated it will turn on you like a Cobra.

    I laugh about it. I cry about it. But I love it.

    Gary D.
  8. scubagreg

    scubagreg Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Perryville MO
    I'm in the process of setting up a team in the greater St. Louis area. We've had a few meetings but having a hard time getting people to show up for the meetings. Any sugestions.
  9. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    If they won't show up for a meeting to get things started can you count on them to show up for training or a call when needed?

    Keep looking

    Gary D.
  10. Mphill9929

    Mphill9929 Angel Fish

    The guy that runs it also has a good monthly newsletter on PSD operations.

    Jeff Lane[/QUOTE]

    I am that guy. I just joined this group and was hesitant to post until I had read a bit and got a feel for this group. But if you are going to talk about me ...

    I have a few things to offer that will be of assistance to those of you who are, or are aspiring to be, PSDivers.

    I host and moderate a discussion group specifically for PSDivers and teams and you are welcome to join over 600 of us at:

    I also publish an Internet magazine called PSDiver Monthly. If you will copy and paste the link below into your browser, you can subscribe for free.


    For those of you who also dive recreationally, we also do the same for recreational diving. For a free subscription to our Internet magazine, The Wet Gazette, go to


    To to join our recreational diving discussion group with over 1000 members, go to


    All of our email groups are protected, moderated and secure. We do not share or sell our membership lists.

    I also am the creator and administrator of the Public Safety Diving SOP Project. This project has been ongoing for about 15 years and is a free assistance program designed to help PSD teams either write or revise their operational guidelines. Fo SOP assistance, you must write to me direct at mphill9929@aol.com. Include yoru name, Department and contact information. I will also need to know the type of team you have, Fire, Law Enforcement, EMS or Independant - Paid or Volunteer and the type of water you typically are called to dive in.

    Mark Phillips
    Editor Publisher
    PSDiver Monthly
    The Wet Gazette

    Beaumont Fire / Rescue
    Dive Team Training Coordinator

    Instructor Trainer
    Co-Director State of Texas

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