In reality, Trimix is a risk management breathing mixture utilized by divers typically seeking to offset the consequences of diving normoxic air or nitrox mixtures at a planned diving depth by replacing much of the nitrogen and some of the oxygen with more benign inert gases like helium.
A lot of times we get focused on the personal protective equipment that keeps the diver encapsulated in hopes that the diver has reduced exposure to the materials they may come in contact with and we tend to forget about the other support ensemble and ancillary equipment that is also exposed to the same environments.
One thing we must ponder is, what is the culture within the “Tech Diving Community” when it comes to currency and proficiency of basic tech diving skill sets?
by Darrell Adams:
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards have become the most widely accepted standards for agencies that are responsible for providing technical search and rescue services in the United States. These standards provide a framework to help agencies more effectively manage their operations, reasonably ensure they have competently trained personnel, and limit liability by conforming or adhering to consensus based standards that have been developed by the search and rescue community, product manufacturers, training organizations and other technical rescue professionals. The NFPA standards address many different professional qualifications for the technical rescue disciplines such as water rescue, rope rescue, confined space, vehicle and machinery extrication, and several more. There are NFPA standards that also cover other aspects like the health and safety of response personnel, as well as working equipment and the personal protective ensemble of the response personnel. NFPA standards are reviewed periodically to address the changes within the search and rescue communities’ methodology and to address manufacturer changes and advancements.
There are two standards that address the majority of the aspects of technical rescue with the first being the NFPA 1670 (Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents 2014 edition) standard that identifies and establishes the level of “functional capability” for organizations who respond to technical search and rescue incidents. The 1670 Standard outlines how to conduct technical rescue operations safely and effectively while minimizing risk to rescuers. The 1670 Standard is intended to help the “Authority Having Jurisdiction” (AHJ) assess technical rescue hazards within a given response area, identify the level of operational capability, and establish guidelines for incident operations and training. Within this standard it addresses thirteen different technical rescue disciplines (Rope, Structural Collapse, Confine Space, Vehicle, Water, Wilderness, Trench, Machinery, Cave, Mine, Helicopter, Tower, and Animal Search and Rescue). An organization can determine the level of operational capability to each of these disciplines as they apply to their agency based on an individual needs assessment. These different levels of operational capability address specific concerns that are associated with the specific environments. Rope rescue however is one of those disciplines that blends and crosses over into the other disciplines and is not limited by environment. Therefore, it should be considered when an agency is developing programs in these other areas. The levels of operational capability for the disciplines in NFPA 1670 are listed as:
The Awareness Level that “represents the minimum capabilities of organizations that provide response in technical search and rescue incidents.”
The Operations Level that “represents the capability of organizations to respond to technical search and rescue incidents and to identify hazards, use equipment and apply limited techniques specific in this standard to support and participate in technical search and rescue incidents.”
The Technician Level that “represents the capability of organizations to respond to technical search and rescue incidents, to identity hazards, use equipment, and apply advanced techniques specified in this standard necessary to coordinate, perform, and supervise technical search and rescue incidents.”
The second standard is NFPA 1006 (Standard for Rescue Technician Professional Qualifications 2013 edition). This standard identifies the minimum job performance requirements (JPRs) for technical response personnel who perform technical rescue operations. This standard does not limit an organization on training but it does establish a “minimum level of competency for a rescuer” within each rescue discipline. It is aimed at the rescuer’s ability to demonstrate skill proficiency. The job performance requirements defined in chapter five “shall be met prior to being qualified as a technical rescuer relative to the discipline specific chapters.” The subject matter addressed in chapter five is: Site Operations, Victim Management, Maintenance, and Ropes/Rigging. The chapter-specific disciplines of NFPA 1006 are: Ropes, Confine Space, Trench, Structure Collapse, Vehicle Rescue, Surface Water, Swiftwater, Dive, Ice, Surf, Wilderness, Mine and Tunnel, Cave and Machinery Rescue. Within each of these disciplines there are two levels of qualifications:
Level I. This level shall apply to individuals who identify hazards, use equipment, and apply limited techniques specified in this standard to perform technical rescue operations.
Level II. This level shall apply to individuals who identify hazards, use equipment, and apply advanced techniques specified in this standard to perform technical rescue operations.
Some of these rescue environments are low frequency events for a lot of technical rescue organizations and are considered high risk events. So one has to remember that this standard again only establishes the “minimum level of competency for a rescuer” therefore, retention of knowledge and developed skill sets are very fragile. These skill sets must be maintained to ensure that a rescuer is able to perform when the need arises. Monthly, periodic and annual currency and proficiency training is a must for agencies providing technical rescue services. With some disciplines there may be OSHA regulations that also require annual training like confine space and trench.
Some other relevant NFPA standards to the technical rescue arena are:
NFPA 1983 (Standard on Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services – 2012 Edition)
NFPA 1951 (Standard on protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents – 2013 Edition)
NFPA 1855 (Standard for Selection, Care and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents – 2013 Edition)
NFPA 1952 (Standard on Surface Water Operations Protective Clothing and Equipment – 2015 Edition)
NFPA 1936 (Standard on Power Rescue Tools – 2015 Edition)
NFPA 1561 (Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System and Command Safety – 2014 Edition)
NFPA 1410 (Standard on Training for Emergency Scene Operations – 2015 Edition)
NFPA 1401 (Standard for Fire Service Respiratory Protection Training – 2013 Edition)
NFPA 471 (Standard on Recommended practice for Responding to Hazardous Materials Incidents – 2002 Edition)
NFPA 472 (Standard for Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents – 2013 Edition)
NFPA 473 (Standard for Competencies for EMS Personnel Responding to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents – 2013 Edition)
NFPA 1500 (Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program – 2012 Edition)
NFPA 1521 (Standard for Fire Department Safety Officer Professional Qualifications – 2015 Edition)
NFPA 1583 (Standard on Health-Related Fitness Programs for Fire Department Members – 2015 Edition)
NFPA 1584 (Standard on the Rehabilitation Process for Members during Emergency Operations and Training Exercises – 2015 Edition)
NFPA Standards on the horizon:
NFPA 1952 (Standard on Protective Ensembles for Contaminated Water Diving – Proposed future date 2016)
NFPA 1986 (Standard on Respiratory Protection Equipment for Technical and Tactical Operations – Proposed future date 2017)
The NFPA Standards exist to provide an organization with a foundational framework for agency operation and incident management as well as training guidelines. While these standards are not regulatory, they have been widely accepted among those in the technical rescue arena as a consensus-based standard. They should be considered when an agency is looking into organization development and training programs. One really should obtain copies of the standards that are and will be relevant to them, and really dive into them to grasp a better understanding of them. The training programs of ERDI have been, and will continue to be, researched to make sure they achieve adherence to the relevant NFPA standards as they apply to agency programs. “There are no walls in the ocean to hold onto, no time-outs can be called, and re-dos are not granted when things are not going as planned.” Proper planning prior to an emergency is paramount. So grab some coffee and sit back with the Lil’ red books of NFPA.
SDI/TDI/ERDI Instructor Trainer with Air Hogs Scuba in Garner, NC, Captain with the Harnett County Underwater Search & Recovery Dive Team and technical rescue instructor for NC Fire and Rescue Commission
“Hey Chief! OSHA Inspector is here, he’s in your office…”
by Darrell Adams:
Many dive teams get hung up on trying to figure out if the “Commercial Dive Standard” applies to them and in the meantime forget that OSHA standards and guidelines encompass a variety of other workplace safety issues. In the great debate of whether or not OSHA has jurisdiction, or a standard applies, depends on several variables. First, do you even operate in an area that is subject to OSHA compliance? Outside the USA and its territories this conversation may be moot but that doesn’t mean that these standards do not have merit, can improve workplace safety, and reduce risk to employees if an organization implements them. Second, is there an employee and employer relationship where the employer is obligated to ensure the safety of its employees? This question can be answered by determining if there exists a relationship based upon monetary compensation and/or the act of providing insurance to said person(s). The “Safety and Health Standards: Occupational Safety and Health” website may be of help in developing a basic understanding of OSHA’s purpose and the employer’s responsibilities. http://www.dol.gov/elaws/elg/osha.htm. Another place an employer should reference is the “Compliance Assistance Quick Start” webpage that provides general information to the basic housekeeping regulations he or she may be subject to. https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/quickstarts/general_industry/gi_step1.html. Third, is there an “exemption” that may apply to the standard that allows an organization to opt out of compliance with a standard or regulation due to a certain set of circumstances or provisions that are met?
These questions lead us to the great debate that has existed for years in Public Safety Diving (PSD), “Do we have to comply with OSHA regulations?” The answer is: “Yes and no”.
There are four major groupings of OSHA regulations. They are: General Industry, Construction, Maritime, and Agriculture. Within each of these regulations there exist many sub-regulations that may have application to an organization. An organization really needs to do its own research into each of these areas to determine if they are applicable to them. The regulation section that is most famously referenced in the PSD arena is: “The commercial diving operations standard does not apply to diving operations under the following conditions….. 29 CFR 1910.401(a)(2)(ii). Diving solely for search, rescue, or related public-safety purposes by or under the control of a government agency.” https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/Directive_pdf/CPL_02-00-151.pdf.
The polarization and scrutiny that this one statement has caused within the PSD community has resulted in marriage breakups, bar fights, and social media battles of wit. But seriously, so many divers in our PSD community get caught up in the determination of application that we fail to see the true purpose of this standard in a commercial setting and its merit in the public safety diving arena. I would challenge everyone to look at the ocean instead of the waves. Take this regulation, read it, dissect it, and relate it to the scope and application for your own organization. Then ask yourself can this help us be a safer organization and what is the cost of doing so versus the cost of not doing so? You may find there are parts of this regulation you already meet, some you could implement fairly easily, and others that will take time and or money, but it can provide you with a framework and a set of goals for which you can strive. There may be parts of this regulation your organization finds are not applicable due to the diving environments and conditions you operate in. In other cases you may find there are environments you should not operate in until you can provide a better risk assessment and compliance. Below are some, but not all, of the other relevant OSHA regulations that should be considered. Take time and see if they apply to your organization.
1910.101 Compressed gases
1910.133 Eye and face protection
1910.134 Respiratory protection
1910.135 Head protection
1910.136 Foot protection
1910.138 Hand protection
1910.146 Permit-required confined spaces
1910.147 The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
1910.151 Medical services and first aid
1910.242 Hand and portable powered tools and equipment, general
1910.1020 Exposure & medical records access
1910.1030 Blood-borne pathogens
1910.1200 Hazard communication
1926.106 Working over or near water
One of the complaints about OSHA is that the regulations at times are outdated and do not keep up with technology and advancements within our industry. OSHA enacted a Standards Improvement Project (SIP)-III in 2010 which is “a proposed rule to revise and remove requirements within several OSHA standards that are outdated, duplicative or inconsistent. This rulemaking will help keep OSHA standards up-to-date and will help employers better understand their regulatory obligations.” As professionals in the industry we can make recommendations and suggest changes. The websites for this are: http://www.regulations.gov/ or https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=17928
OSHA regulations are designed to keep employees safe and are not a bad idea to consider if they can help you keep employees safe and can keep costs down by preventing injuries. OSHA will also reference the CDC NIOSH recommendations when conducting investigations. These recommendations can be found by searching diver fatality reports on the CDC: NIOSH website. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/. These reports can provide invaluable insight into why public safety diver fatalities happen and how we can prevent or reduce the risk of similar events from happening in the future. Another great article on this subject is “OSHA Standards and PSD Teams” by Michael Glenn. https://www.tdisdi.com/osha-standards-and-psd-teams-are-we-really-exempt/.
SDI/TDI/ERDI Instructor Trainer with Air Hogs Scuba in Garner, NC, Captain with the Harnett County Underwater Search & Recovery Dive Team and technical rescue instructor for the NC Fire and Rescue Commission.
These reflections, whether good, bad, or indifferent, make up critical waypoints in a person’s personal journey throughout his or her career.
Moving water is a very powerful force. There are several things that go into factoring the power of moving water like: speed, volume, bottom contours/gradient, tides, and winds.