More PSD Teams than ever recognize the need to “take the dive locker with them”
As every ERDI diver and team knows, the dive site, time of day, year and mission are not chosen; they are handed to you. As such, teams need to be prepared in all aspects, not the least of which is having their equipment and air sources available on scene. ERDI teams do not have the luxury of a pleasant surface interval to relax and get cylinders filled at the local dive center. Storing, organizing and transporting equipment and mobile air source become an important aspect of any dive operation.
At some point in time, nearly all dive teams, whether they are a volunteer or a paid department, will be faced with equipment choices ranging from buoyancy compensators to drysuits to high-end technical gear, including storing/transporting equipment in either a dive trailer or dedicated vehicle. In addition to being a highly visible piece of equipment, it may very well be the most important acquisition that requires a lot of planning, budget and vision. A dive team may very well have to live with this decision for a number of years. No one wants to be remembered as “Oh, that was (insert your name here)’s bad idea!”
Let’s take a brief look at both dive trailers and dedicated dive vehicles.
Setting aside the topic of budget for a bit, such a project should start with an appraisal of the team’s needs. If the dive team is rescue oriented, then of course speed of deployment is paramount as well as having the appropriate gear available immediately. If your team is more recovery-based then how the equipment arrives is not as important.
When considering a dedicated vehicle, there are a number of important points to remember. Among them are:
- In addition to the purchase budget, will there be funds for ongoing maintenance?
- Does the budget allow for a new purchase or renovating an existing vehicle?
- Will the typical Step Van, also known as a bread truck or delivery van, be large enough to accommodate equipment, air systems and other important features? Often times a retired ambulance will not be large enough for dive equipment, cascade bottles, generator, etc.
- Will specific training be needed to have personnel drive the van? Strangely, more and more people are not “stick ready,” meaning they aren’t able to use a manual transmission. Seems like a minor point, however on a volunteer team, it’s a consideration.
Like-wise, there are considerations to keep in mind regarding a dive trailer as well:
- Will weight limitations of the trailer prevent accomplishing the team’s goals?
- Are there appropriate vehicles readily available for towing at all times?
- For volunteer teams, will specific training be needed to safely tow and handle the trailer? This not only includes backing up a trailer but also avoiding the feared “90 Degee Bend.”
Certainly, budget restraints may very well force a decision; however, once budget is determined, careful thought and planning are called for from this point on. According to Sgt Wendell Nope, Utah Public Safety Dive Team, it was at this stage that his team took it’s time in determining exactly what the team needed. Careful thought was given to size, layout and need. “Taking our time along with careful planning was one of the most important things we did in the decision making process” said Nope, “and for us, a trailer made sense.”
In keeping with the planning phase, visit and talk with other teams who have made the commitment with either. Ask budget related questions; ask why a particular layout was chosen, and anything else that will assist your team in determining what it needs. Another resource to use when seeking out advice is ERDI’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PublicSafetyDiving by asking other ERDI teams what they are doing.
If you need some help discussing what is out there and available, reach out to us at ERDI by calling 207.729.4201. For more information about ERDI’s programs, visit www.tdisdi.com or ERDI’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/PublicSafetyDiving. Above all else…BE SAFE!