Articles

Kirby Morgan ® Models 18 & 28 Band Masks ® Operations and Maintenance Manual

Posted On: 12-07-2013 9:24 AM

OTS Guardian User Manual

Posted On: 12-01-2013 6:42 PM

Ocean Technology Systems Guardian Full Face Mask: Users Manual
Very informative Manual that every diver using the Guardian FFM should be very familiar with.

The Public Safety Diver Misconception

Posted On: 11-10-2013 5:12 PM

The Public Safety Diver Misconception
(Brief Article on the PSD Misconception and the difference between Recreational and Public Safety Diving)
11/2013

A common misconception with non-divers, divers, and even professional dive Instructors around the world is that a “Certified Recreational Diver” (including recreational (SAR) search and rescue divers) are qualified to perform Public Safety Diving Services. 

It even happens in the Public Safety arena: Police Departments, Fire Departments, Sheriff’s Office, etc.  Example: Joe Fireman is a legitimate Fireman in the City of Makeup Town USA.  He has been a Fireman for 5 years. Joe goes and gets SCUBA certified at his local dive shop. He really enjoys it, so he takes a tropical vacation and completes his Advanced Certification. When he comes back to the states he continues his education, studies hard, and completes his Rescue Diver Certification or Search and Recovery Specialist. Joe “with good intentions” brings his Rescue Diver certification (and/or his Search & Recovery Diver) to his Chief and tells him that he can now dive for the Department because he now is a “Rescue Diver”.  The Chief, not knowing that the certification is solely a Recreational Certification, says “Great we now have a Dive Team!”  

This is a farfetched story for some departments…….but a very true story for many departments out there. Even worse, this is happening with some departments after the employee gets his or her Basic Scuba Certification!

Getting a Rescue Diver Certification or Search & Recovery Diver Certification IS recommended and is a good idea (it is even a requirement for some dive teams). A diver can learn a variety of useful techniques. But what people need to understand is that a Rescue Diver Certification is a RECREATIONAL CERTIFICATION designed for a diver and his buddy diving in the ideal conditions. Designed to help a diver recognize, prevent, and respond to situations/emergencies that may arise during the recreational dive. This is all good knowledge for any diver to have! But it is not a substitute for proper Public Safety Dive Instruction from EXPERIENCED Public Safety Divers. Just a note on that: A Course Director or Instructor Trainer (from any number of agencies) is no doubt a great Instructor. However taking a CD or IT and giving them a 3 day class and outline to teach PSD, then making them a PSD Instructor is not wise. It would be sort of like taking a Recreational SCUBA Instructor and giving him or her 3 day class on the use of Surface Supplied and making him/her a Commercial Dive Instructor. It wouldn’t fly in the commercial dive industry. We will discuss this more on that in another article.

Sadly this idea that any certified diver is capable of conducting safe Public Safety Dive Operations is an extremely dangerous misconception, and far from the truth.  Far too often that belief leads to serious injury or death of divers who have taken on work they are not certified nor equipped to complete. A Police Dept. would not hire a college graduate, show him how to shoot a pistol and make him a Police Officer. Would a Fire Department hire a recent graduate, show him how to use a fire extinguisher and make him a Fireman? Of course not, that’s silly. So why does it happen in Public Safety Diving? Answer: Lack of public education!
 
Recreational training teaches a new diver the very BASICS of diving (enough to get by).  Most of the time it is taught in ideal conditions (warm water, clear water, free from most dangers and hazards). It is taught with the idea that the diver will be diving in similar ideal conditions with no stress and no dangers. Recreational divers typically dive in perfect climate conditions with a relaxed atmosphere. PS Divers many times find themselves diving in the worst conditions imaginable; windy, snowy, nighttime, rainy, freezing, etc! And many times it’s not a very relaxing experience. PS Divers may be under a lot of stress to get the job done quickly when family members are standing on the side lines screaming at them to hurry up.
 
Public Safety Divers many times find themselves diving in cold, dark, polluted, moving, black, and very dangerous waters. It is diving in the utmost worst possible places imaginable, that sets PS Divers apart. Dangers such as barbed wire, trees, needles, glass, sharp jagged pieces of metal, entanglement hazards (just to name a few) all pose dangers to Public Safety Divers.  What would a diver do if he/she could not see, all of a sudden became entangled, was bleeding from a cut, and was running low on air? Typically, that diver will PANIC which adds to the distress and forces the diver to lose control which in the underwater environment usually ends in tragedy.

Public Safety Divers should be using slightly different equipment than a typical Recreational Diver. For example: PS Divers should be using AND trained in contingency procedures with a totally redundant air source (not an octopus). Public Safety Divers should be using full face masks or helmets and drysuits for protection from contaminants and the cold. Not saying they must, because there are situations where it is not warranted. PS Divers should be trained in effective PSD search patterns. Search patterns taught in a typical recreational rescue class again are not designed to be used in no visibility waters with hazards. PS Divers should be trained in proper underwater evidence handling/collection procedures, especially if they are conducting body recovery operations. For Safety of all involved: PS Divers should be operating as a Team following a set of protocols found in their specific Standard Operating Procedures or Guidelines.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for a more in depth look at the Public Safety Diver Misconception and the difference between Recreational and Public Safety Diving.

Author: Shane Weinreis has been diving since 1986. He is a PSD Instructor. He has led US Water Rescue Dive Team on numerous missions since 1997. His favorite diving activity is exploring extreme depths. His goal is helping other teams succeed; his passion is helping families in their deepest time of need.

Water Safety Tips

Posted On: 08-24-2013 2:56 PM

 

 
General Water Safety Rules
  1. Learn To Swim
  2. Never Swim Alone
  3. Swim Only in Safe Areas, Never Swim in a Ditch or River
  4. Never Chew Gum or Eat While Swimming
  5. Supervise Children and Weak Swimmers at All Times
  6. Always Wear a Personal Flotation Device/Life Jacket When Boating or Near Moving Water
  7. RESPECT THE WATER
     
Basic Rescue Guidelines
  1. Reach- hold on to something stable and reach with your other hand to the person in the water
  2. Throw- if you cannot reach with your hand, toss things that float for the person to hold onto
  3. Row- if in a boat use oars to move the boat close to the person in the water
  4. Don’t Go- do not go into the water unless professionally trained and certified and have the necessary equipment to do so
     
Boating Guidelines
  1. Know your boat
  2. Always wear a Personal Flotation Device/Life Jacket
  3. Don’t stand while boat is moving
  4. Make sure there is an experienced adult operating the boat
  5. Don’t get on the boat if the operator has been drinking alcohol
  6. Check the weather prior to departing
  7. Carry a cell phone in a waterproof container (can be as simple as placing phone in a heavy duty zip lock bag and using duct tape to seal it).
  8. Let someone know where you are going and when you will return, and stick to that plan
  9. If floating a river, use a professional guide and raft
     
River Dangers
  1. A river is moving faster than it appears, strong currents and undertows can make it impossible to swim effectively, even in shallow water
  2. A river can have many hidden dangers beneath the surface that can trap or severely injure you. Some of these dangers include: cars, glass, trees, debris, sharp metal objects, barb wire, etc.
  3. Hypothermia: water dissipates heat away from the body 20 times faster than air, even in the summer time, extended exposure to the water can be dangerous.
  4. If caught in a current, float on your back traveling downstream feet first, angle your body towards shore (45 degree angle)
  5. Video Moving Water, Adventure or Danger?  http://www.weather.gov/os/water/multimedia/Moving%20Water%20PSA.mov
     
Floods
  1. Pay close attention to weather and news alerts
  2. Don't try to drive across flooded roads, water can stall a vehicle and waters can rise extremely fast putting the driver and passengers at risk. Swiftwater can easily move a car.
  3. If in immediate danger of flood water, move to higher ground ASAP.
  4. Do not play in or drink flood water, flood water is contaminated with numerous health hazards
  5. If aware that a flood is coming, be prepared, have plenty of food, bottled water, radio, flashlights, batteries, and clothes
We all need air to breath and water can easily prevent us from doing so, all it takes is enough water to cover our mouth and nose.