One of the many benefits of working in the diving industry is you get to travel to some amazing places and meet even more amazing people. During our Czech Republic trip we did just that. In the early spring of 2012 Sean Harrison (Vice President of Training and Membership Services) traveled to the Czech Republic.
Generally with business trips there is never a single objective and this trip was no exception. Along the way Sean had the unique opportunity to visit the Czech Republic Public Safety Dive Team, along with Michal Piskula (SDI,TDI & ERDI Regional office manager). This is a team that Michal has trained over the years and currently they teach all SDI & ERDI and have been trained as divers under TDI for their deep and overhead operations. The team at this stage is self-sufficient and conducts its own internal training.
We started our visit at their headquarters and training center in Bruno, a very nice facility located on a lake which makes it ideal for dive and boat training. Our host and tour guide was Mr. Bc Filip Lipovsky. While sitting in the office, Sean was shown a map of the country and told that the team covers its entirety. Thus, the next natural question was – “how many members on the team”, thinking the response would be 200-300 hundred. I nearly fell out of my chair when Filip said 22. Yes you read that right…22 divers (there are a few more not full time scattered around the country, but not many) cover the entire country, impressive feat!
This team is not only well trained and very organized, they are also pretty well equipped. Because most of their dives are pretty deep (many dives are in the 60-100 M / 200 – 330 feet) and all are in cold water, they have two dive trucks that travel with them on every operation; one with dive gear and divers and the second with a fully functioning and self-sufficient double lock-out chamber. As if the diving conditions and terrain were not enough of a challenge (lots of mountains and cave systems) they have the added challenge of a large amount of unexploded ordinance in the water. That’s a story for another time though.
Filip then took us to the boat house where we boarded one of the boats for a tour around the lake. The lake and some of their boats are mostly used for training exercises and the conditions could not be much better: cold and low visibility and if the visibility is too good, just touch the bottom. After a tour around the lake highlighting various training spots, the boat was docked and the tour continued of the inside training facilities and those trucks.
The facility is well equipped with: large classrooms, demo equipment for presentations (surface supplied and open circuit), bunk rooms and a gym for the divers to keep in shape. The building is shared with the local fire brigade and some assets are shared as well.
The trucks are designed to go anywhere, through anything and that is a very good thing; as stated earlier, this country has more than its fair share of rough terrain and these divers need to get to some pretty remote locations. The insides of the trucks have the standard equipment found in most well equipped dive trucks: two way radios, GPS, air conditioning, inflatable boats and air compressors, along with the standard gear needed for PS dives.
The visit ended with pleasant conversation revolving around the similarities between PS dive teams in the US and the Czech Republic and an agreement that their needed to be more sharing of information amongst all public safety teams all around the world. Each team and location has their own unique challenges and demands, but in the end their core needs are the same.
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