by: Felix Ventura Jr. | SDI/ERDI Instructor Trainer
Family: a noun that is used to describe a basic social unit.
Metaphorically the term family is used to create inclusive categories such as community, global village and humanism. When I think of family, I not only think first of the family that I came from, my parents, siblings and extended family members. I also count my family as those individuals that I have come to know – my close friends, co-workers and the family of public safety personnel that I have met over the years. Yes, family, although different but in many ways the same.
This is how many public safety divers would characterize the relationship between life with family at home, and that of their work family. Most people go to work every day for years and sometimes they will develop a lasting friendship or two. When they talk about brothers and sisters they are referring to a sibling. In public safety, those endearing terms can extend to the people we trust with our lives every day; our “Public Safety Family”. It is with both of these families that we spend a great deal of our adult lives. How many times can you recall sharing holidays, meals, special occasions and sometimes a room with one of your fellow divers? In many ways, the people that we work with in public safety are our adopted family. The old timers are the dads that teach the kids the ropes and inspire them to carry on the traditions, much as we do with our own families. The bosses, like parents make sure we follow the rules and stay safe. We beg, borrow and loan tools, clothes and money from each other. When either suffers the loss of a member, the entire family grieves.
So in many ways, Family is Family. Public safety divers are not unlike other public servants – Police, Fire Department, or EMS. The time spent on the job is often filled with great uncertainty. As a public servant we are called upon, many times without notice, to put our personal safety on the line time after time. Then and there, our public safety family is by our side to help support and protect. Then when the job is done, we go home to our families who support us in a different way but with equal passion. In the end, I think we are the lucky ones. Where else do you get to do the thing you love and have two families love you for doing it?!
Cronomer Valley Team Leader Jorge Resto tries to educate and get the families at home more involved with what they do in public safety diving. He has done this by setting aside pool time and hosting frequent BBQ picnics, inviting family members to come out for a demonstration on what it is we do as public safety divers. He believes by doing so, it will hopefully give them a better understanding of the job, and help them feel more at ease with what we do. His dive team belief is: it is important to keep the family at home involved with the public safety family, which helps to keep the stress levels down on both sides.
Cronomer Valley’s Dive Team also shares this sense of family with their team members and trainees. Resto states, “What hooked me from the get go was my ERDI Instructor saying, ’At the end of the day EVERYBODY goes home.’” Our team has taken other public safety diving courses, but I believe that if you really care about your dive team members and want to keep things up to standard, then you should incorporate ERDI Courses in your training.
Jorge Resto is former Chief and current Dive Team leader for New York’s Cronomer Valley Fire Department, Dive Team