The Hazlehurst/Jeff Davis (Georgia) Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team received a call from the local sheriff’s office on a cold icy Saturday in January 2011. A report of a vehicle in the Ocmulgee River had been given to the team by a caller on their emergency line.
The dive team arrived at the scene to find local fisherman around, but no one knew anything about a missing vehicle. After a few minutes, the local deputies arrived with the rest of the story. The reported driver of the missing vehicle had been picked up the previous Thursday night and admitted to a mental hospital. The man said he drove his new truck into the river at a local boat ramp. The deputies searched the boat ramp but could not find any evidence of a vehicle. After two days in the hospital the man seemed to be thinking more clearly and insisted that his new truck was in the river. That’s when the dive team was called-in to put training into operation.
On a cold and wet day 12 months earlier, Buck Buchannan of Dive911 had conducted an ERDi light salvage workshop with the Hazlehurst/Jeff Davis VFD Dive Team and Milan VFD Dive Team at Waterdog Scuba in Hazlehurst, Georgia. This was one of the first workshops with Buck’s “vehicle simulator.”
The two-day workshop not only taught the dive teams the how’s and why’s of vehicle recovery but also trained them how to recover a vehicle as safely as possible with minimal subsurface time to the diver. This ERDi light salvage course was designed by Buck Buchannan to provide public safety divers with new techniques and a unique skill set focused on the safe and fast removal of autos/light items from the water.
During this course, Waterdog Scuba students gained experience using a full size automobile simulator that brought a real-world feel to the workshop. As Buck explained “You don’t just simulate it, you do it.” Topics covered in the workshop included rigging, remote lifting, and search techniques for new and older autos.
Now back to January 2011. Armed with the complete story from the sheriff’s deputy, the team, consisting of divers from the Hazlehurst/Jeff Davis VFD Dive Team and Milan VFD Dive Team, went to work.
Six team members were present: team captain, two tenders and three divers. The deputy was used as a scribe. The primary diver hooked to the tender line to make a cursory sweep of the boat ramp. Then the primary diver went down and started his sweep. After locating the wreck, he gave three tugs to the tender. The diver asked for more slack by giving two tugs and began his cursory search of the vehicle. The diver then attached his contingency line to the vehicle to make his trolley system for the wrecker. Once the line was in place the diver surfaced and exited the water.
The dive boss turned to the deputy and asked, “Where’s the wrecker?” The deputy looked perplexed at the request being made so soon. The dive boss explained, “Your vehicle is at the other end of that line.”
Upon arrival of the wrecker, the primary diver reentered the water and attached the wrecker cable to the vehicle’s frame, then exited the water. Total dive time combining the initial location dive and the hook-up dive – 11 minutes!
Thanks goes out to Buck Buchannan of Dive911 for the training he provided to our local teams.
“Courage through knowledge-Skill through training.”
Waterdog Scuba along with Dive911 we be holding a “Light Salvage” workshop on Friday, March 11th (6:00pm-9:00pm) and Saturday, March 12th (8:00am-5:00pm). This workshop will be sponsored by the Hazlehurst/Jeff Davis VFD, Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Office, and Jeff Davis County EMA. Anyone interested can register by contacting Waterdog Scuba at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration cost: $90.
Students gain experience using a full size automobile simulator that brings a real world feel to this workshop. You don’t just simulate it, you do it!! Topics covered will include rigging, remote lifting, techniques for new and old autos, and much more.
Emergency Response Diver International (ERDi) Instructors will provide an introduction to their varied and in- depth Public Safety Diver training programs. These training programs should be an integral part of any PSD or SAR training regimen.