Homicide Detective Terry Kelley, a certified dive master, dives into the synergy between public safety dive teams and police investigators.
We’re stoked to introduce you to the 2023 ERDI Ambassador Team. These three are passionate about public safety diving.
The tenders are the heart of a team. They are decision makers, scene managers, and life support. They should be invested in and celebrated.
The water rescue throw bag is one of the most versatile and highly effective tools for the first responder. Are your rescue throw bags in working order and is your team ready to use them?
We’ve all seen it, whether in the public safety diving world or not: Folks getting stuck in their ways and insisting that their way is the best way. The problem with this mentality is that it doesn’t allow for new skills or ideas to be introduced to whole teams. Learn more about how to fix this mindset in this article.
Join Dr. Thomas Powell and Alan Cale as they chat about all things public safety diving. They’re doing a deep dive into public safety diving long-term planning. While things might be slow in the current COVID19 times, there are still things we can do while the world is on pause.
Do you know the differences in the male and female bodies which make them respond to cold differently? This can be important to consider when potentially talking about or even performing an ice rescue. We’re exploring more about the things that cause females and males to react differently when hypothermia is in question.
Here are some ideas to consider regarding alternative air. Not only which type of air we use but how often we train in these situations? There are different types of alternate air. How to choose the right one for your team? Here are the things to consider when choosing your alternative air source. The last factor to consider is why it is so critical that you carry an alternate air source.
Searching for missing objects or evidence in a public safety mission should be taken seriously. By that we mean, proper training and preparations. With this comes practicing body positioning underwater while performing a search mission. We’re breaking down the ins and outs of body positioning and how your team can practice most effectively.
Name: Sean Hidalgo
From: Stockton CA
Work: City of Stockton Fire Department
ERDI: Thanks for taking time from your day to talk with us about your experience in Public Safety Diving. Lets get right into it Sean and tell me a little bit about yourself
Sean: I’m from Stockton California and I am a Fire Captain with the City of Stockton fire department.
ERDI: Can you give us a little about your background in diving?
Sean: My background in diving basically started here on our dive rescue team. The first time I started diving was when I became a team member back in 2000 and from there I progressed on to instructor in 2002 with another agency and then quickly crossed over to an SDI and ERDI.
ERDI: You’re actually in a unique position from most public safety divers in that you wanted to join dive team even though you were not a diver at the time.
Sean: Yes, the way it happened was our recruiting department had a couple specialty programs open up, one of them being on a dive team. There is a selection process that includes swim tasks and an interview process before we go into open water and then the rescue dive training. So it is a little different but wearing a full face mask underwater with zero vis is not too big of a transition from fighting a fire with no visibility wearing a full face mask. So for me, it was an easy transition and that was how I got my start into public safety diving.
ERDI: that’s really cool, now since you got your start this way, do you go on recreational dives just for fun?
Sean: Yes, I do a few classes here and there and have also enjoyed teaching friends and family of the fire department and some of the kids including my boys. Both my boys are certified. And as far are recreational dives, it’s usually when we are on vacation. Recently we dived in Hawaii while on vacation and most recently in Cabo San Lucas. And every once and a while, we dive around here in the rivers to look for good spots for training exercises, but most of my diving is on duty.
4:30minutes into interview
ERDI: What types of public safety are you involved in?
Sean: There are 2 things we deal a lot with in Stockton. Zero visibility, you know the kind where you can’t even see your hand when its right in front of your face and the second thing we deal with is contaminated water. We have a large delta area that we cover, so anywhere around there we have a lot of exposures to pesticides and heavy metals from a old military base. so we are always prepared with fluids on the truck.
We are a 99% pure rescue team. When 911 is called about someone in water, we are the team they call. From the call we have an hour to attempt a rescue. Depending on the situation and what we have, we usually stay longer just to find the vehicle or person and help the local DART recovery team.
ERDI: What team exercises does your team do to stay sharp?
Sean: Most our training revolves around zero vis, so when in the pool, we practice with black out masks. We also have some mock vehicles we built to use in the pool for entanglement drills and confined spaces. We try to construct real scenarios with life size vehicles and challenging obstacles so when the phone rings, we are prepared.
ERDI: That’s sounds like good fun training. When its time to add dive members to your team, what is that selection process like?
Sean: We don’t necessarily look for certified divers, but I do have divers that I teach off duty that want to join the team. To me, recreational diving is very nice if we mess up on something, we talk about it, you know, we are the good guys as the instructor. Whereas for the dive team, when we teach open water, we are the bad guys. We hammer in skills in because our open water course is a lot longer than the recreational because we expect more. We go into dive sociology and explain dive tables and the idea of gas log so we can deal with a dive emergency.
The biggest qualities we look for are personality, attitude and confidence in the water.
ERDI: Give us a scenario of a daily routine for your dive team
Sean: We are a fire company first and water rescue is our specialty. First priority is to set up gear on the fire engine and once everything is on the rig, we set up the water rescue to be ready by 8am. Each day varies, but a typical day may include taking out the watercraft to make sure it running or pool training.
ERDI: Do you have complacency and what do you do as a team to avoid it?
Sean: Ensuring every morning when you come on duty, you check everything. You check your tanks, hoses, mask and of course our fire engine. And it’s the same thing with the water rescue. As the captain, I usually go through everything again too. Complacency is an evil and we’re doing good, knock on wood.
ERDI: What value do you place on the Public safety dive training?
Sean: We look for a curriculum that meets our local NFPA Standards. These are the standards that most dive rescue teams follow. We also look at real word training and experience.
ERDI: one last question Sean, How does Public Safety equipment differ from recreational dive equipment?
Sean: Diving is inherently an equipment intensive sport. We are a different breed from recreational and technical divers. We mostly carry full face masks and some type of hazmat certified drysuit. Every once and a while you do find rec or tech divers with full face mask, but rarely. And you do find them wearing drysuits, but they are typically tri-laments that are nice and comfortable.
A lot of guys have surface supplied air, pony bottles or some type of back up air supply. When I dive in Hawaii, I have a BC, tanks, mask and a snorkel; I try and keep it simple and streamlined.