The Difference in Rescue and Recovery Diving

Diver and Tender Working Together

diver-and-tenderAs public safety dive (PSD) teams evolve and mature, so do the response time and amount of on scene set up required to get into the water. Just like any team, the more you work together and train, the better you get. Like a racing pit crew, every second counts. The biggest difference here is that you are not racing for a checkered flag; you may very well be racing for a life.

While the subject has been debated endlessly among teams, departments (PD vs FD) and online forums, the reality is that the majority of call-outs are recoveries. And by our very nature, we want it all to be rescue. From time to time, it will be. Teams will save lives, teams will make a difference. Teams will get a return on that investment of training, hard work, dedication and budget. Also important to remember is that even though it may have been a recovery, by doing so we’ve assisted family members, friends and loved ones with closure.

While there are many elements of a team that require practice and training, few affect the final outcome more than the diver and tender. A diver and tender working seamlessly together greatly impacts the primary diver’s ability to get into the water fast. And the tender’s ability to direct them where to search will look like one fluid motion. This all starts long before the call even comes in. The diver needs to have his or her gear set up and ready, including the dry suit turned out ready to step in, dry suit zipper waxed, BCD, and the tank and regulator set up (air off). The tender needs to have tending lines ready for fast deployment and communication system charged and ready. Once on the scene as the diver is getting suited up, the backup tender is getting as much detail for the dive as possible: depth, water movement, hazards and last known point. The tender also needs to be properly geared up: waders, PFD, gloves, etc. So, we have a primary and a backup diver getting geared up, we have a primary tender dressing his/her diver and setting up their own equipment that is needed, while the backup tender or incident commander is accessing the scene. All of this is happening in mere minutes.

Once the diver is in the water, the tender continues to collect more information regarding the victim’s whereabouts and refines the dive plan, keeping the diver up to date. It is at this stage that the tender needs to be organizing the other surface support team for de-con station and updating them with information from the diver.

For the well-established teams, this procedure may be second nature but for teams that are still in the building phase, this is critical information or a good reminder. The single most important item in all this is that the team brings back everything they put in the water.

For more information on how to build a more cohesive team between diver and tender, please visit us at

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI

If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201

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