Tender Heros

Why is the most important role on the PSD team the most overlooked?

By: Tim Andro, Owner – Northeast Public Safety Divers

Additional info in blog by Wes Kilgore of ERDI

We have had the pleasure and honor to work with a lot of different PSD teams and a lot of tenders. This can be both good and also concerning. One unfortunate trait most teams share across the board is the lack of training, experience, and time their team’s lifeline gets.  The lifeline on the team that plays a major role in making sure our goal of getting everyone home every time is accomplished!!  The member that helps maintain the chain of custody and keeps our maps and patterns tight.  The member that is usually the first one to notice an emergency and get us home safe!!

“The real soul of our teams is our tenders”

Sorry divers it’s not you, the real soul of our teams is our tenders!!! The sooner we start focusing on the lifeline of our teams is the day we go from just a bunch of people coming together to really operating like a real professional team.

Tenders can reduce our search time with proper communication and proper diver management.  A disciplined tender understands the importance of staying in one spot not only for our patterns but to aid in making a court ready map! We are talking about the tender who embarrasses and understands the responsibility they have to the function of the team and its success.

How do we get our tenders to this level of operation? First it’s by spending more time getting our tenders experience and training.  Second, use the experience within your team to grow your tenders!! Divers need to remember that their experience can shape a tender to becoming the professionals we and our teams need them to be.  Last let’s stop neglecting this lifeline and start investing in our tenders so that we can all function as a safer and more professional team!!

Tenders are the scene managers and lifeline to the surface

Let’s face reality, once the diver has gone down, they’re really not in charge of anything but keeping the line taught and feeling around. So, why wouldn’t you want to invest into your tenders. Tenders are your scene managers, your lifelines to the surface, your actual first responder if there is an emergency underwater. If it was me under water, I would want to know that my tender is the most capable, well trained individual on the team.

So what does that training look like? ERDI has a specific tender course that can be taken. During that course the ERDI Tender will learn about what emergency response diving is, the make up of a team, how to function as a professional team member, how to conduct operations as well as OSHA and NFPA regulations. They will also learn about gear and equipment, diving physics and physiology, search patterns and even boat operations.

Public safety dive teams should prioritize tenders and surface operations

Boat operations are not always something that all teams will be doing. However, it is good training for a tender to have. Most shore line searches give us plenty of space to work from. However, boats have precious real estate to work from as well as those pesky weight limits. Sometimes it can be very difficult to have all the gear and equipment for a primary diver and their tender, a backup diver and their tender, and a 90% diver and their tender. Don’t forget about the person driving the boat either. In these cases, it is best that tenders have had the opportunity to practice operating from a boat prior to actually having to conduct an operation.

Never forget to honor your tender

If there is anything that you should take away from this article, it’s that any dive team should place an emphasis on its surface operations and its tenders. The tenders are the heart of a team. They are decision makers, scene managers, and life support. They should be invested in because the whole operation depends on them!

Check out our ERD Tender course to learn more about what it takes to be a successful tender.

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