Confined Spaces and the Emergency Response Diver

Training, Training and then Train

confined_spacesConfined Space Dive has so many variables as to a definition, as it relates to public safety diving. Certainly one aspect that is common to a definition is not being able to make a direct ascent to the surface. If we keep this in mind during any discussion of confined space diving for rescue and recovery divers, from here we can discuss the many facets that make up what is essentially an overhead environment.

A public safety dive team will be faced with a variety of environments, type of dives and without notice. Truly, the only acceptable manner to carry out this type of mission is to be thoroughly trained in confined space diving which in the ERD world can take many forms from a simple “car in the canal” to an aircraft that has ditched or crashed into a body of water or perhaps an evidence recovery dive from an ice-locked pond. While performing an operation under ice is not a true penetration dive, like any other overhead environment, it requires proper training.

It’s at this point that we can make an observation that “I don’t have to worry; I’m being line-tendered”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While comforting to know that your tender is solely focused on you at all times, it does not mitigate the fact that the PSD is exposed to unseen hazards that can entrap, damage life support equipment and generally turn a “routine call” into a nightmare. Much like the technical cave diver who trains to exit from a silt-out, the PSD diver and ERD team must train for the circumstances they will encounter.

Accepting the fact that there can be budgetary issues, PSD teams should plan and complete their training to handle most commonly occurring overhead environments – - – submerged vehicles with chance of rescue, ditched/crashed aircraft near local airports for example. In reality, they are not routine calls as referred to earlier and can happen, obviously without warning. Seek qualified instructors and get trained. Somewhere along the way, I recall a saying “Don’t be a statistic”. Makes sense to me.

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