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4 Things to Know before Your First ERDI Class
by Lauren Kieren:
“We’re sending you to Hobart, Indiana to go through public safety dive training in three weeks. Get ready for it.”
I was not expecting to hear this when my boss called me into his office to talk one afternoon. While I am always excited to have the opportunity for continuing education in diving, I am an active sport and technical diver with zero public safety experience. I had no idea what I should do to prepare for this course, which is not ideal when you have a type A personality and like to be over prepared for everything.
So, what can you do to prepare for your first public safety diving course?
First, it’s important to realize that this is not going to be like any other scuba diving course you have taken. ERDI courses are designed to save lives, recover bodies and sensitive crime scene evidence, and place divers in hazardous environments. The instructors who teach these courses have lifetimes of real world experience in all of these areas and they take their job VERY seriously. They will know if you have done your part to prepare for training. Here are some of the key things that helped me prepare for ERD level one (in addition to some things I wish I had done prior to training).
Prepare your mind and body. Swim, study, swim, and swim some more. Naturally, as with any class, you may have some materials to review and paperwork to complete prior to training. Get this done ahead of time and write down any questions you may have for your instructor. Once training begins, there is no time to make up for this. If you show up unprepared and your instructor does not show you the door at this point, you will quickly be left behind in classroom discussion. In addition to getting your mind ready for the course, get your body ready for it too. ERD level one is not a walk in the park. There are A LOT of physical training requirements such as swimming, carrying weight, treading water, treading water while carrying weight, towing divers, moving manikins around in the water, and more swimming. Just when you think you are all done swimming, you’re not. Trust me… just keep swimming. Take the time to prepare for this course by swimming and training; you will be thankful you did later on.
Arrive early. I have always been an “early bird” and consider myself late if I am not where I need to be 20 minutes prior to the start time. When I walked into class 30 minutes early, I nearly fell over. Everyone in the class was present, prepared with their pre-course studies open and pens ready. Did I miss something? Was the class schedule changed? No, it was not, and I quickly realized I am sitting in a room full of police officers and fire fighters and neither party is going to show up “late.” Unless you want extra special “attention” from your instructors, show up EXTRA early.
Be prepared to work hard. ERD level one is not a course you can get through by simply showing up. You will have to work hard, from start to finish, to earn your certification. Get plenty of sleep, don’t plan on going out to party at night during your course (our instructor made sure to advise us on this at the beginning of class), and get a good breakfast each morning (skip the donuts though… trust me). While nobody expects everyone in class to be Superman and excel at every task, every student is expected to put in 110%.
Be a team player. Your attitude can make or break you during your ERD level one training. Along with a lot of hard work, there are a lot of team building exercises involved in the course. Your instructors will play the team’s strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll need to be willing to work together. If you have a bad attitude and you are not willing to work as a team player, all of the exercises will become a lot more difficult for both you and the rest of the group. Be a team player and finish the course successfully together.
One of the most important things I would recommend to all divers is to keep an open mind during your training. Public safety diving classes may be a very different experience when compared to sport or technical diving courses. Take the time and put in the effort to prepare ahead of time; it will make a world of difference during your training, allowing you to get the most out of the experience.