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Soon-to-be certified diver looking for a dive team

Discussion in 'Public Safety Divers/Search and Rescue' started by medic_diver45, Aug 19, 2004.

  1. medic_diver45

    medic_diver45 Barracuda

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    We're lacking all the way around in this county....the two departments with money (and therefore the "specialty" teams- although judging by their members it's more like special ed) refuse to work mutual aid with most of the rest of the county. They think they are too good to work with us. So we're strong in some areas and weak in others- we're screwed all the way round (other than there are some really good people- just we lack the equipment and money for proper training).

    Steve
     
  2. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
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    I’m not sure where to start here so I’ll try and take it a step at a time.

    Medic-Diver45, you say; I'm going to get at very least my PADI Advanced Open Water with specialties in search and recovery, night diving, nitrox and deep diving. I might go for my Divemaster credential once I gain enough experience (also depends on how much time I can spare) What else would be helpful as far as specialties go?

    Let me give you the value of each of these for PSD work. OW and AOW are a start. You know where the water is, how to possibly get into it, go up and down and something about the gear.

    Night diving: OK we do a lot at night.

    Nitrox: Fine for sport but useless and dangerous for rescue work.

    Deep diving: Ok we do a lot of 130 and 150 stuff.

    Search and recovery: Not for PSD, more for your lost light or knife. PSD will change most of what you will learn.

    Then you go onto: “I don't mind starting out at the bottom (no pun intended) since I don't have any experience but I don't want to start out at the bottom with a team that has lots of problems. If I am going to be putting my life in their hands, I had better be able to trust them and work with them. I am taking diving very seriously, as seriously as I do when I go in a burning building with the fire department.”

    All teams have problems, even mine. We are so flippin busy we can’t fill the positions which puts a strain on the rest of us.

    You WILL have your life in YOUR hands and not in anybody else’s hands. You and you alone will be responsible for your own safety. A lot of what we do is Solo, at the end of a rope or climbing into things where there will be nobody else they’re to baby-sit you.

    Taking diving seriously? You don’t even know the definition of the word as it applies to diving yet. In a RESCUE team, which is what you are referring to. It is way beyond serious. “You” nobody else, need to keep the call in your head, sort out the info and devise a plan with a lot of flexibility. Remember where you are going while running code and keep you and the rest of the public safe in the process. Get on scene and while interviewing witnesses and finding an entry point get suited up, WITHOUT A SINGLE MISTAKE. You need to know your gear so well that you never have to think about it and be able to hit the water in under three minutes.

    Bridgediver is next: He hit on a good point here. Diving Black Coffee? We have some Tanic Lakes that do resemble Black Coffee and the diving is bad but some vis is offered. We also have some lakes I wish were like VERY BLACK COFFEE. We just finished a two-day dive where our UK800R dive lights pointed at our mask lens did not even show a glow. That is Black Water.

    Back to Medic-Diver45: “As for improving the local situation, you have to kind of understand the politics of Indiana emergency services. Basically the people in Indianapolis who control the funding for any sort of emergency services have this few that we here in west central Indiana are served just fine by the Dept. of Natural Resources and Indiana State Police dive teams. They don't seem to see the need to get to the scene quickly. (A lights and siren response by the ISP or DNR divers to a water emergency is practically unheard of around here).”
    Then don’t run away from the problem fix it. Get the people that count and that are in-charge educated about how we have a “Golden Hour” to make a save. We run that hour out to two hours before we step down to recovery mode.

    If these are elected officials you can take shots at them every two years. Go into their offices with training tapes about how people can be saved if you try. Their name on a Bill or Law Change that saves someone will keep them in office for a long time. Put the pressure on them.

    Just because your area is FUBAR’ed doesn’t mean we all are. Budgets are and will always be a problem that everyone has to deal with.

    This is a good one: “I'm quite used to black water work (granted, it's only been while skin diving- I used to make extra money fishing golf balls out of the water traps at the local golf courses which entails basically feeling for the balls on the bottom cause visibility is about 4-8 inches) so I think I am comfortable working in it.”

    You do not have a clue. I have hit a 30’ bottom and made 60’ dives into it. That is Black Water. When you start wiggling your way through the mud to get to a solid bottom, It’s you, the water, the mud and a rock solid knowledge of your equipment. Try filling a bathtub or swimming pool with Chocolate Jell-O. Let it set up then dive in it. We do it on a regular basis.

    Dr K has a good one: “This has already been said a little, but I'll repeat for emphasis. If you're a new diver you DO NOT want to be in pea soup looking for a body in a car, which happens to be in a river with some serious current, along with lots of pointy rocks and big limbs. Nope, nada, negatory. Get some experience, take a PSD course, then go for it.”

    There is almost nothing worse than a long time submerged body. With a FF you can actually smell the body underwater when you start to move it. I don’t care how much protection you have those sluffing off body pieces cover you and it’s not a pleasant feeling to be covered in this dead persons rotting DNA. Don’t even try and compare it to a burned victim. I have been around plenty of them and it has no comparison. It’s gross when a burned body comes apart in your hands but a rotting corpse underwater is far worse.

    Try grabbing one that looks intact. Every feature looks fine right down to clothing, eyelashes, wrinkles nails and skin texture. But the second you touch them they just disintegrate to the point we load them into ditty bags and fishnets.

    On one particular recovery dive we had like that we had two very seasoned, well-trained divers quit the team. Several months later one left Law Enforcement all together and has quit diving.


    Cornfed: While PADI, NAUI or any of the other recreational training won't prepare you for PSD work I don't see why you should wait to join a team. Why? Well it is completely different then recreational diving for one thing. What will he learn by swimming around a reef looking at fish? Second, his fire department experience will likely provide better preparation for what he'll experience and help him dealing with the lack of visibility and other stressful things he'll encounter.

    __________________
    Sport will not prepare you for PSD other than getting diving experience, which everyone needs. The more the better. It’s just that two many people get sport diving ingrained into them and then the bulk of what you learned there isn’t practiced in PSD. An example is while in rescue mode you don’t do safety stops. You don’t want anything extra as far as gear or equipment as it causes more problems than it corrects. And a lot more or less depending on how you look at it.

    With PSD nothing is set in stone. Everything needs room for change and change it does, rapidly and on the spot.

    When we are moving hot and heavy in “Rescue” mode the Firemen will pull our reg off the tank, fill the tank, replace the reg and send us on our way without ever taking our gear off. We get a 1-2 minute break and a full service fill all at the same time. Kind of like the old Gasoline Service Stations of years gone by.

    Medic-diver45, rethink the way you are thinking. This is no picnic. You made mention of getting training When I have Time. To be good at this profession you need to make time and don’t get involved in much that you can’t just drop and go 24-7-365.

    I have had cement set up with the tools still stuck in it. If you can’t, or won’t do stuff like that don’t even try for this occupation. Just diving related stuff between this month and last I have over 100 hours of OT. That’s in addition to the regular job.

    Gary D.
     
  3. medic_diver45

    medic_diver45 Barracuda

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    We do it now without the benefit of SCUBA gear because we really have no other choice, if we want to give the victims any hope of survival- I carry my skin diving gear in my truck with me at all time and I will do the same with my scuba gear once I get checked out on it.

    If I had the money to take a PSD course, I would take one. I'm quite comfortable in currents and in low/no visibility conditions. The only river we have around here that gets any current at all is the Wabash and it's not in our jurisdiction so we don't have to worry about it. Most of our "car in the water" or "missing swimmer" calls are in farm ponds where the biggest hazard are the d--- alligator snapping turtles. The water is no more than 30 ft in most of these places and the deepest I have seen around here (and I can touch bottom holding my breath) is about 60 ft- one of the reasons it is used for local PADI dive training. There are deeper (some are 200+ ft) old strip mines that are flooded out in the western part of the county, but that's not our jurisdiction and the owners are very restrictive about who gets back there. Ironically enough, from what I have been told it is the clearest (viz is supposed to be 30') most "open" water in the area, probably because everything is so far down.

    I agree that I should seek professional training as a PSD but the problem lies in a lack of funding- I don't make a lot of money and the department does not even have enough money to pay for proper fire training (we go through the state minimum 24-hr basic firefighter course- aka "How not to get yourself killed on a fire scene.). That is one reason I want to get involved with a proper dive team....so I can get the training I need.
     
  4. cornfed

    cornfed Mindless lemming

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    I know, that was my point about getting started early. I doubt any team would let him in the water the first day but he could start building the skills needed for PSD from day one.

    I've had that done with an SCBA bottle quite a few times. :wink:

    Gary, I've read a lot of your posts and you're certainly the most qualified person to advise him. My comments were based on the assumption that his fire department experience would help him adapt to the stress better than the average Joe off the street. And that because PSD work is different then sport diving the suggestions to get sport diving experience might not be the best.
     
  5. cornfed

    cornfed Mindless lemming

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    Yeah, that's pretty basic. My class was over a 100 hours and I would consider that bare minimum.
     
  6. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
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    Firemen/women and LEO's normally make good PSD's due to, amoung other things, the normal stress of the job and independant thinking.

    The tank filling is something that would freak out some people. Sure makes it easy on us.

    Medic-diver45, I can't beleave they are only giving you 24 hours of training. I guess they have never been on the recieving end of a civil lawyer. I, as well as a big percentage of the department have over 100 hours of fire training and I don't like fire.

    That is almost a crime. So is Pig poop in a snorkel. :11:

    Gary D. ;^)
     
  7. bridgediver

    bridgediver Instructor, Scuba

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    Please, please don't do this! You will become another statistic. There are a ton of accidents every year because allot of PSD teams are ill trained and don't understand the dangers or how to do it safely.

    You're planning to race cars without even knowing how to get the car door open! You say that you have no choice - The only choice you have is to make sure that YOU go home at night!

    Listen to Gary. He has been doing this stuff for a long time.

    I understand your frustration but you need proper PSD training. If you can't afford it, wait and do it when you can
     
  8. cornfed

    cornfed Mindless lemming

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    True, but so is not liking fire! :wink:
     
  9. TheAvatar

    TheAvatar Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: 9300ft above sea
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    Well since Gary and others covered the dive aspects... let me just say:

    So you want to live somewhere rural enough to have volly fire/amby/dive, low cost of living, but still have a four year college nearby??? I dunno... maybe somewhere near Emporia, KS?

    Heck, where I'm at we have volly fire/dive but rent for a small 1BR/1BA starts at $800/mo and the nearest four year college is 80 minutes away.

    Something to consider: If you are an I/85, some states may not recognize your training. Also, some states will require you to have your NREMT cert and still may require you to recert in their state anyhow. Lots of volly fire depts, much less pro depts, around here won't accept 24hrs for training, they require ~62 hours of college credit minimum which can include fire training.

    EDIT: Getting involved with a team that will let you soon is a good idea. You may not get in the water. I was with my team for 9 months before I got wet and even today I'm still a probationary member. Sometimes people are probabtionary for three years (an indication that this is serious and difficult as others have said)! You can get good surface experience and an idea of what is done and if it is for you. A good tender is a vital asset. Know what goes on on the surface makes you better underwater and vice versa.

    EDIT 2: Night dive in some 55F water at 9400ft ASL yesterday. The wonderfull thing was, viz was almost 10ft when the bottom wasn't stirred up, so that was really really fun! Spooking sleeping trout is amusing.

    PSD, W-EMT-B
     
  10. medic_diver45

    medic_diver45 Barracuda

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    As for the 24-hr firefighter course....the state is trying to put as many people out there as possible because we have a severe shortage of people to fight fire (the NFPA 2 in 2 out rule is a pipe dream in most places around here), and this attitude of "hurry up and certify them won't end until someone hands the state their butts on a platter in court. The training I recieved was closer to 140 hrs of actual practical experience and classroom time- it's just called the 24-hr course, because that's the state mandated minimum. Most departments around have a de facto Firefighter I/II course (in all but name) that they use to train probies and that is not to mention that most departments have mandatory training 1-2 nights per week (some do it more often- usually our training is focused on extrication since that makes up the bulk of our calls outside of medical). I didn't mean to give the impression that we're a bunch of slack jawed amateurs (except when it comes to dive rescue) over here. We have persons who are trained in surface water rescue, ice rescue, haz mat (everybody's Operations level trained, and out of 26 people 11 are Haz Mat Techs (NOT ME- I run away from Haz Mat incidents) and trench rescue. All of this training is paid for by the firefighter out of their own pocket. We do the best with what we have available to us and we do it well and with a great deal of pride. The problem lies in that there are things that need fixed and no matter how much political pressure we put on people (the state and local government's budgets are totally FUBAR now....no one's getting any money) we can't make any headway. I'm here only for (at most) 10 more months until Jennifer (my fiancee) graduates and then we are gone, so I'm starting to be a less aggressive advocate for change simply because it won't happen anytime soon (not until longer after I am gone from this place).
     

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