Posts

Can YOU Really Make a Living Being a Public Safety Diver?

Most of the time, it seems that the only pay off they do receive for recovering a weapon or someone’s child, is to be informed that they have no clue what they are doing

Leading Causes of Death for Public Safety Divers

Over the past year or so, I have been on a mission to figure out what the health risks are to public safety divers, what is causing injuries, why they are dying, and what ERDI can do to help prevent these accidents from happening.

Things to Remember on Your First Call

No matter what, you will get some butterflies in your stomach and the thrill of a real world mission cannot cloud your need to remain a responsible team member.

The Most Efficient Path to Becoming an IT

Individuals work and prepare for years to have the opportunity to take the Instructor Trainer course that allows them to directly impact the next generation of professionals and divers entering into our sport.

A Chaplain’s Task

The volunteer chaplain must realize that his primary role is the care and camaraderie of the team, not recruitment for his local religious organization.

How to Search and Recover Under the Ice

The truth about ice diving operations is that they are very similar to standard public safety dives, with the addition of problematic factors.

PSD Leadership and Training

What happens when the old hats take over? Does this mean that once you become the boss the busy work goes away?

So You Want to Become an IT?

by Dr. Thomas Powell:
become an instructor trainer

Many people around the world hold hopes and dreams about accomplishing big goals in life. For some, the idea of becoming a doctor or lawyer is the ultimate objective. For others, becoming an educator is the greatest goal to achieve. Education has many realms. These realms include academic settings such as classrooms, wondrous facilities such as museums, the natural outdoor world, and various others. As children, many of us remember the class trips to the park, the beach, the mountains, or even some swamp somewhere to look at plants, natural formations, or regional “critters.” For a few people, leaving this outdoor experience was not an option. This group of people may have consisted of individuals who chose to become park rangers, researchers, or environmentalists. All of these job positions allow people to educate others on the outdoor world.

For one small niche , there is nothing better than sharing the underwater world with others. The underwater realm is one that consists of a massive variety of flora, fauna, natural formations, and unique experiences. This realm may include the oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, submerged caves, and any other place where a person can get below the surface. The idea of sharing these experiences with people is something that never gets old. Those who choose to become scuba instructors may travel the world teaching, or simply stay in a local home-town region and share experiences with friends, locals, and family members. Some may even take on very unique teaching capabilities that allow them to train public safety divers to help keep others safe, or to venture deeper, or farther into overhead-type environments.

For a very small number of dive professionals, there exists one final step to take. That step is to become an Instructor Trainer. Instructor Trainers (IT) are individuals trained to teach new instructors. Essentially, an IT gets the opportunity to mold the instructors who may train the divers of the next generation. Becoming an IT is no small task. Candidates must have a strong teaching history as an open water instructor, and then attend an intensive eight day training program put together by an examiner under the direction of International Training Headquarters.

As an IT, you can train new instructors, conduct crossover programs for instructors coming from other agencies, and staff future Instructor Trainer Workshops with the examiners from headquarters. At the same time, becoming an IT means you have reached the top of the training side of the scuba industry. You may get the chance to help develop new programs or work with experts from around the world on improving the scuba industry.

For some individuals working to reach the pinnacle of training capability is the ultimate objective behind becoming an IT. For others, the ability to “teach the teacher” makes the IT educational pathway worthwhile. The one thing to remember is that education never ends. IT professionals may still have the opportunity to move up the technical or public safety food chains and continue to earn diver, instructor, and even IT certifications in those advanced educational areas.

During the Instructor Trainer Workshops held in Jensen Beach, Florida, all students get the opportunity to interact with headquarters staff members and see how International Training operates. At some point in each program, the executive team at headquarters takes time to sit down with candidates and discuss the future of diving, International Training, and dive education. This event means that every new IT gets the opportunity to sit face-to-face with Brian Carney to discuss what is coming, what may need to be improved, and what he or she hopes to see in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the IT program contact International Training World Headquarters. The next Instructor Trainer Workshop will be taking place from October 25th through November 1st at the headquarters facility in Jensen Beach, Florida. A second Instructor Trainer Workshop will also be held this year in Assenza di Brenzone, Italy from November 14th through November 22nd.
As an Instructor Trainer myself, one of the most rewarding experiences comes with the opportunity to return to headquarters and assist staff members with running future Instructor Trainer Workshops. Sharing knowledge and watching new Instructor Trainers learn to evaluate and train new instructors can be incredibly enjoyable. Similarly, the ability to return home and help other shops, educators, and organizations grow can make your home town region become a more active dive community. As IT professionals, one of our goals is to promote diving, help other instructors, and grow the scuba community as a whole.

Remember that becoming an educator is not an easy task. Furthermore, becoming a teacher of other educators can be even more challenging. Despite the effort, as an educator you must take pride in successfully helping others learn how to bring the underwater world into the lives of future students. If you choose to become an IT, make an effort to lead by example and help the scuba industry grow to become even better than it is today. The goal for any IT should be to shape the educational world for future divers, thereby making it a safer and more exciting place.

For immediate information on becoming an Instructor Trainer follow this link:
https://www.tdisdi.com/diver-instructor-trainer-workshop/


– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

Were You a Fan of Sea Hunt?

by David Houser:

VOIT regulator

My Navy VOIT double hose regulator.

Sea Hunt, a TV series originating in the late 50’s and running until the early 60’s, captivated the audience and may have motivated many young viewers to become future divers. I always wanted to go on underwater crime – fighting scuba adventures like former U.S. Navy Frogman, Mike Nelson. Fully equipped, he always wore a VOIT green label double hose regulator.

In the early 1970’s, as an airman stationed in Austin, TX, talk would sometimes lead to scuba diving. Sears carried scuba equipment, including Navy VOIT double hose regulators (right hose for inhalation and left for exhalation), VOIT 72 cubic ft tanks, masks and fins. It didn’t take long to make a decision that would affect a lifetime. With new equipment and full tanks, our destination was Austin’s own Lake Travis. I was hooked on the first dive.

Transferring to Florida in 1972, and ready to dive, the first hurdle was learning tanks could not be filled without a certification card. Hal Watts’ store offered classes. The certification was NASDS and…WOW… did I learn a lot! My instructor quickly became a good friend and I continued diving, getting my advanced certification and experiencing Florida’s springs.

david houser and crew going into Cisteen

Early 1970’s, preparing to dive into Cisteen.

Nearly every Friday evening we would go diving. Because most of the springs (Peacock, Orange Grove, Troy, Ginnie, Blue Springs, Ichetucknee, Little River and 40 Fathom Grotto, to name a few) were privately owned, we had to hike through cow pastures and woods to reach our destination.

While diving these springs I became fascinated with the underwater cave systems, and subsequently bought single hose regulators with an alternate air source (octopus), double 72 cubic ft tanks with manifold, Atpack (to replace the horse collar buoyancy compensator), and a new SCUBAPRO dive computer. The regulator was put on the manifold in the center of the tanks. The octopus, an idea Hal Watts came up with, was put on a swivel so if a buddy needed air, he could use it.

Switching from a double hose regulator to the single hose reduced the work of breathing, which was not affected by the diver’s position in the water. Another notable improvement included, bubbles being released from under the chin instead of behind the head.

homemade equipmentCave divers needed three independent lights, a primary and two backups. Ikelite and Scuba Pro made several lights, most requiring “C” or “D” batteries. Other divers were making their own lights using motorcycle batteries, so I decided to design my own using plexiglass and an aircraft landing light. The burn time was around 45 minutes to an hour, which was great for the time. However, due to its large size, the light had to be carefully balanced around the neck when entering caves to avoid damaging it.

We trained with several instructors in Peacock Springs, doing appropriate skills and practicing silt out drills. The phrase “plan your dive and dive your plan” was used by Hal Watts, and holds true even today. We planned and executed dives in Peacock 1, 2 and 3, Orange Grove, Olsen, Challenge, Cisteen sinks (all part of the Peacock Springs system); as well as Little River and Ginnie Springs. During some of the dives we would post signs warning divers that cave diving is dangerous without proper training, and attempted to connect tunnels different tunnels.

It was a pleasure to dive and spend time with some of the true pioneers of cave diving, especially Henry Nicholson. As a member of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Dive team, I hold the highest respect and admiration for Capt. Henry Nicholson. *

The training was great back then, but it’s been amazing to watch how instruction and equipment has, and continues to, improve over the years.

My training and education continues today as an Instructor Trainer with SDI/TDI/ERDI and PADI Master Instructor.

Please remember, get the training you need for the type of diving you want to do.


* Henry Nicholson was Captain of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Dept. Dive Team. He founded IUCRR (International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery) along with Robert Laird, in 1999. The Nicholson Tunnel in Peacock was named after him, as was the Henry

How to Convince Your Supervisor You Need ERDI Training

by Dr. Thomas Powell:
PSD trainingDive teams around the United States exist to serve communities, territories, and regions. These teams often operate within specific geographic areas. In many situations, a dive team undergoes training and obtains equipment until leadership or an oversight group determines that the team can be deemed operational. Essentially, the team can then begin to perform assigned tasks such as rescue, recovery, or investigative operations. From that point forward, many teams focus on maintenance rather than improvement. When new divers join teams of this type, they are required to meet a certain standard, but the team as a whole entertains “in-service” refresher-style training rather than new concepts or courses.

The act of maintaining a “good-enough” status is one that does not encourage forward movement. Operators in this type of environment often lose the excitement associated with training events and become “rusty” in regard to basic skills. Individuals may view training actions as “the same old thing” and simply go through the motions required when not faced with new tasks and challenges. Training in new areas and performing new skills encourages divers to stay fresh and remain active. When people learn new skills, they are more likely to want to use those skills and gain practical efficiency. Education and vast skill sets can make any dive team better, and increase the likelihood of successful results associated with operational missions.

Training is a factor that can help any team improve and protect itself. All leaders overseeing public safety organizations recognize and understand the topic of liability. If a dive team performs an improper action, or operates in an unsafe manner, the team and its leaders are liable and face judgment on some level. Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) works to ensure that course programs meet NFPA and OSHA standards. ERDI is the only agency of its type to take on this challenge. This standardization ensures oversight bodies that teams undergoing training in ERDI programs are being taught to operate in a manner that may reduce liability and ensure a safe operational environment. For this reason, team leaders can be encouraged to protect a team’s assets and operational status by training to become safer. This factor is the number one standard that suggests dive teams should seek out ERDI training and work to climb the training ladder within this educational system.

Dive team leaders often enjoy the idea of mutual aid agreements and deals that improve team benefits. If a team has the ability to perform one type of mission, that team will have that capability’s associated value. If that same team learns to perform multiple mission types, the value associated with that team improves tremendously. Essentially, the team would have increased capabilities that can be offered to both a local community and surrounding areas. Offering assistance availability to outside areas can often lead to financial, human, and even political support. To achieve a level of increased capability, dive teams must seek training and knowledge. This knowledge must be obtained, practiced, and then put to use. If a team uses training in an effective manner, various added benefits may be obtained through team education. ERDI is a training agency that focuses on first developing quality divers who can dive in a safe fashion. From that point, a fitness standard must be established and core public safety skills must be developed. These standards can be seen in the ERD 1, ERD 2, and ERD Dive Training Supervisor course standards. ERDI also maintains specialized training that focuses on contaminated water, hull searching, swift water operations, threat assessment, full-face mask operations, dry suit operations, small boat operations, helicopter operations, technical ropes use, crime scene investigations, and various others realms of expertise. Similarly, instructors with specialized skill sets are encouraged to develop needed course programs for teams that can be vetted by subject matter experts and studied to ensure OSHA and NFPA compliance. These educational programs provided by ERDI are unparalleled and focus on diver safety. The course programs provided by ERDI are taught by field experts around the United States who are actively working with dive teams and who have experience in public safety dive environments. For these reasons, team leaders should be encouraged to research how effective ERDI programs have become around the United States. The proof of success can be found among the teams that have already trained within the ERDI system.

Finally, teams must look at the past and determine how effective they have been and what team capabilities have been lacking. A review of this type will show team leaders where weakness exist. To become more efficient, teams should seek ERDI training programs that will eliminate these weaknesses. Training courses require skill practice and skill practice is what makes a dive team improve. Educational programs such as those developed and provided by ERDI can help a dive team to become more prepared for operational missions and better able to serve their communities.


– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC