Crime Scene Investigation vs. Non-Evidence Recovery

Do you know the difference between crime scene recovery and non-evidence recovery? The differences might not be as great as you think. In this article, we will look at the similarities and differences between these two types of recovery.

Law Enforcement and Fire Department Dive Teams, Working As One

Have you heard about the common beef between law enforcement and fire department public safety dive teams? It is real and alive; however, we’re calling for these teams to work together for the common good. Learn more about how these two types of teams can work together for the benefit of the community.

ERDI Testifying in Court

Public safety divers often juggle a lot of roles. While you may not be called to testify for each and every call you go on. It’s important to know what you need to do to be prepared to be called to testify no matter what call you go on. In this article we’ll touch on the things you should keep in mind just in case.

ERDI PSD Tips and Cautions

Is your team on the same page in regards to what certain terms mean? Do you have team members with all different backgrounds or even training? If you answered yes to either of these questions this article is for you.

Obtaining Corporate Funding for Your Public Safety Dive Team

Getting funding for a public safety team is no easy feat. It seems that no matter how experienced or large a team is, there’s still never enough to go around. In this article, we’ll walk you through a few unique ways to get corporate funding for your public safety dive team.

Emergency Diving, an interview with a Public Safety Diver

ERDI called Grady Weston to ask him what it’s like to be a Public Safety Diver. Below is the transcript from that call.

ERDI – Hello Grady, thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.  Before we get into Public Safety Diving (PSD), can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Grady – I was born and raised in Joplin, Missouri which is where I currently live. I own an electrical contracting company and a dive shop; Extreme Sports in Joplin. I am also an assistant Chief with the County dive team… By the way, I may have to cut this interview short, we are waiting on a call right now; it is in another county, we trained the emergency dive team and they just got a call about a 5 year old in a creek.   We are currently standing by…

ERDI – Wow! OK. We’ll try to keep this short… What is your background in diving?

Grady – I have been a certified diver for 24 years. I originally started with another training organization but when I had trouble finding a local dive shop that offers scuba training in the area, my son and I became instructors and opened up our own dive center. We started working with TDI in 2001 and got into the public safety side with ERDI soon after. It was the best program at the time and it has evolved into an even better program today. My wife is also a SDI diver and my other son is a SDI Divemaster.

ERDI – How often do you dive?

Grady I conduct about 200 dives per year. A quarter of those dives are “fun” or sport dives whereas the rest are training dives, instructional dives or completing missions. It’s rare for my dive team and I to go a month without diving.

ERDI – How long have you been public safety diving?

Grady – Well it all started as a combination of being a volunteer fireman and a diver a long time ago… They put the two together and put me to work. I wanted to get formal training but unfortunately it simply was not available at the time. The only thing that existed was recreational programs like the Rescue Diver course and that isn’t exactly what Public Safety Diving is about… We were thrilled of the development of ERDI in 2000 since they met NFPA guidelines and OSHA requirements.

ERDI – What triggered your interest in public safety diving?

Grady – The idea of combining my two passions in life; being a fire fighter and diving. It seemed like a perfect fit and it just made sense to me.

ERDI – What areas of public safety diving are you involved in?

Grady – Well I deal primarily with fast moving /murky water in rivers and creeks. There is a lot of farming in the area so when it rains the runoff causes the water visibility to go to zero.  Our biggest challenge yet was dealing with the aftermath of a tornado that took out a third of Joplin, which has 27 bodies of water within the city limits alone.  The 2011 Joplin tornado was a catastrophic EF5 multiple-vortex tornado killed 158 people and injured some 1,150 others and caused damages in upwards of $2.8 billion.  It was the deadliest tornado in the US since 1947.

ERDI – Wow, what an experience. Can you tell me a bit about what does it take to become a Public Safety Diver for your team?

Grady We like candidates to have their SDI Advanced Diver, Solo Diver, CPR, Limited Visibility Diver, Underwater Navigation Diver, and Deep Diver certifications; as well as a minimum of 100 dives.  This type of diving requires a strong state of mind and sense of self. We look for candidates that can handle the weight of equipment in harsh conditions. We also ease new Public Safety Divers into the local diving environments they will be working in so they gain familiarity and awareness in specific settings.

ERDI – As PSD diver, what kind of equipment do you have and how does it differ from recreational diving equipment?

Grady People are usually surprised to hear I go Sport diving in Cozumel in the same equipment I wear while working. I rescue and recover people on a regular basis in sport diving equipment. There are a few exceptions like dry suits, pony bottles, and full face masks. Since we are a volunteer service team we use our own diving equipment. I’ve been in positions where I had to use my teammates diving equipment last minute and we all have similar gear configurations which makes transitions easy for the entire team.

ERDI – What was the most challenging part of public safety diving?

Grady The most difficult part about this job is going to court. It’s likely after a 20 minute dive; we will spend 20 hours in court.

ERDI – What was the most rewarding part of your PSD training?

Grady Gaining the knowledge and skills to save lives. A lot of Public Safety Diver training is the body recovery aspect that can be a difficult area of this field. However, having the ability to bring closure to families is rewarding in a different way.

ERDI – How does your preparation for a PSD dive differ from a recreational dive?

Grady A sport dive allows the diver the flexibility and time to plan and prep for the dive in whatever environment they are entering… A Public Safety Dive is vastly different. A call comes in and our equipment is already set up / ready to dive. We need to know exact details of what is going on, what we need to be prepared for, what conditions we will be diving in and if they are changing due to weather. We have to know if we need a boat and how deep we are going with very little time to arrange logistics. A public safety dive arises out of a command that requires quick reactions. We already have the mental preparation to conduct this type of dive; we also have to match our physical preparation for the challenging conditions by remaining physically fit and up to speed with our diving skills.

ERDI – What value do you place on good Public Safety Divers?

Grady Being a good Public Safety Diver can mean the difference between life and death. It’s a lot of work and commitment to stay ahead in this field of diving. The efforts and experience of a PSD can make all the difference in the world. It has taken my dive team 6 years to be the first call-out to be dispatched and we’re pretty proud to be in this position.

Visual Clues

Learn more about how your team can use visual clues to plan rescue dives. There are three main visual clues you can use to assess any dive site. We’re breaking them down in detail.

When Is It a Crime Scene?

Do you know when a call becomes a crime scene? We’re breaking down the specific things that make a public safety call out a crime scene and why. While this may seem obvious it’s worth a review from time to time.

The Pre-dive Safety Checklist

Safety should always be the number one goal and the first step to safety is doing everything you can to prevent a problem. That’s where checklists come in, specifically pre-dive checklists. These lists are a little different compared to your standard Open Water Diver pre-dive checklist. Learn more about what public safety divers should go over.

Please Explain the Basics!

We’re taking you back to the basics in this one. Does your team know all of the gas laws backward and forward? These are a necessity to keeping your team safe and preventing injuries. Tony Pietrantonio, a commercial diver, public safety diver, supervisor, and instructor helps us take a closer look into the basics every team should work to master.