Taking an ERDI course with prior experience

By: Alan Cale

Shortly after beginning my Open Water Diver course, I met a member of my local public safety dive team. It didn’t take a long for him to convince me to join. I spent much of my time in college learning:

  • The different positions on the team
  • The locations of all the gear on our trucks and how to care for it
  • Different search techniques

I responded to several calls during my time on the team. We looked for weapons, stolen property and missing vehicles. In one unfortunate instance, we searched for a missing boater.

I always looked forward to training and took everything I learned seriously. Ultimately, it could determine whether a victim lived or died and whether I lived or died.

ERDI Course 

When given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to take an ERD I course. I had been looking forward to this since starting work at International Training. It was a unique opportunity unavailable in my small town. While completing the eLearning, I thought about how the lessons presented in the materials related to previous incidents I had responded.

When I reached the section relating to the search patterns, I was reminded of our dive team’s nights of training in our team building with our commander would draw search patterns on the board. He’d explain how to use each. Then we’d go practice.

I recalled the patterns I knew and learned several I didn’t. As my ERDI course progressed, I found additional gaps in my knowledge. 

The Need for Standardized Training 

During the course, my instructors stressed the need for standardized training. Recognizing gaps in my own knowledge and training, I wholeheartedly agreed.

Remembering incidents my team responded to and how differences in training would make it difficult to work with other public safety dive teams. Just working with local authorities who were unfamiliar with our operations could cause problems. 

A benefit of ERDI training is it is accessible to everyone in a department. This ensures a common understanding of how dive operations work. For example, think of your dispatcher. This person may never accompany you to an incident. But thanks to standardized ERDI training, your dispatcher will share your knowledge of operations and required resources.

Any department member can participate in the non-diving segments of the training and earn certification at the operations level. This can include any first responder who would be on scene before divers arrive. 

Finally, individuals who complete both the eLearning and the dives can earn technician-level certification. This flexibility allows department members who are not on the dive team to learn how diving operations work. This will ultimately help everyone work together any time a water-related incident occurs.

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