About Thomas

A little about Thomas

Dr. Thomas Powell, Jr., a co-owner of Air Hogs Scuba in Garner, North Carolina, and Cave Excursions in Live Oak, Florida, has been diving since 1994. As an instructor trainer for SDI, TDI, and ERDI, he has taught classes in recreational, technical, and public safety diving on many levels. During his professional dive career, Thomas has been a professional diver for PADI, HSA, PSAI, DAN, SDI, TDI, ERDI, and IANTD. His experience includes recreational diving around the world, officer positions on various public safety dive teams, cave diving, expert witness work within the dive community, work as a legal investigator, and rebreather diving.

Thomas is originally from Concord, North Carolina. Following high school, Thomas attended Davidson College where he played football and began serving in the Army. In 2009, Thomas made the decision to leave everything behind and immerse himself totally in the world of scuba diving. For two years he worked dive boats, taught classes, and worked on his master’s degree. In 2010, Thomas returned to Charlotte, North Carolina where he worked for a brief stint in local dive shops until he reunited with his business partner, Josh Norris, to open Air Hogs Scuba. From that point forward, they used unique practices focusing on satisfying consumer needs, to bring fun and excitement into their local dive community. Following its opening, Air Hogs Scuba was the first dive facility in North Carolina to become established as a Vocational Rehabilitation Training Facility for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Simultaneously, they were able to bring a higher level of standardized public safety training into their region as well as create a network of unified dive teams through the establishment of mutual-aid agreements.

In August 2016, Thomas made the decision to partner with a group of dive professionals to take over Cave Excursions. The hope was to help rebuild Cave Excursions into a well-used dive facility and to bring some of the success found in North Carolina down to North Florida. Thomas assists headquarters with instructor Trainer Workshops on a regular basis, and is often floating between North Carolina and Florida.

Explore Articles by Thomas

support-out-vets

Supporting Our Veterans

Veterans are the ones who take the time out of their lives to defend our freedoms but yet when they come home we disregard them. Why is this, and what can we do to change it? Veterans all over are struggling to adjust back to civilian life and we can make that adjustment easier by hiring them or pointing them in the right direction.
February 21, 2017/by brittany hadfield
service-dogs

Service Dogs on Public Safety Scenes

One subject we rarely discuss is how many factors must come together to safely put divers in the water. These factors often include support personnel, shore-based equipment, and on many occasions, working dogs. So what is a working dog and what makes one different from the standard puppy roaming around our homes?
January 18, 2017/by brittany hadfield
Sidemount and Public Safety Diving

Sidemount and Public Safety Diving

Backmount may be the standard in public safety operations, and deviation from the standard is difficult, but let’s examine this configuration for applications in the public safety sector.
October 17, 2016/by SDI/TDI/ERDI
Questions to ask yourself at a scene

Questions to Ask Yourself When Arriving on Scene

Proper preparation and procedures for public safety dive teams when approaching a scene
September 14, 2016/by SDI/TDI/ERDI
PSD-night-operations

PSD Night Operations

To find the limits for your team, training is essential. Practice night operations before you attempt them in the real world.
August 17, 2016/by jamescouncill
full face mask comms

Full Face Mask Communications

If your team has new systems or needs to be brought up to date on how systems work, seek out training.
August 17, 2016/by jamescouncill

How to Recruit the Right People for Your PSD Team

Recruiting for a dive team can be difficult, and in many cases your candidate pickings may be slim, but do not just accept members to fill seats.
July 13, 2016/by jamescouncill

Becoming a PSD Instructor in the Modern World vs. Old World?

In the old world of public safety diving, instructors were often experienced divers who used common sense to establish educational practices.
July 13, 2016/by jamescouncill

How to Start a Public Safety Diving Team

If you are forming, or plan to form a new dive team, I wish you luck. Even when taking on this task, ask for help and learn how others have been successful.
July 13, 2016/by jamescouncill
A-core-standard

A Core Standard for a New Public Safety Diver

A core standard for training public safety divers is essential. Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) has worked to develop a set of training protocols where equipment, safety planning, and operational activities are pre-designed to follow NFPA and OSHA guidelines.
June 15, 2016/by jamescouncill
Things-you-can-do

4 Things You Can Do to Become a Better PSD

Many dive team members join as basic open water divers with minimal experience. To help this type of individual be a better public safety diver, there are many actions he or she can take.
June 15, 2016/by jamescouncill
temperature-and-encapsulation-sfw

Temperature and Encapsulation

Diver safety is paramount when considering temperature and how it may affect a diver’s health.
May 17, 2016/by jamescouncill
tech etiquette

Unwritten Rules of Tech Diver Etiquette

With any sport or hobby, there are certain unwritten rules of etiquette we should all consider.
May 10, 2016/by jamescouncill

Surface Supplied vs. Back Gas

Air delivery is one topic that must be discussed and planned on any dive team.
April 19, 2016/by jamescouncill

Benefits of Tech Training as a Sport Diver

There is always something to learn, and an intense focus on improving skill sets and better understanding dive theory can help any diver perform more efficiently in the water on almost any type of dive.
April 12, 2016/by jamescouncill

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.
March 16, 2016/by jamescouncill

Are You Ready to go Scuba Diving in Cold Water?

Cold water diving is not the best concept for everyone out there. But for some, cold water brings the best visibility, solitude, and a very unique aquatic environment.
February 3, 2016/by jamescouncill

Planning a Contaminated Water Dive

Diving in bodies of water known to hold contaminants can be dangerous and problematic. Planning must go into operations of this type and all parties should look for potential hazards and risks to mitigate problems.
January 20, 2016/by jamescouncill

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.
January 20, 2016/by jamescouncill

Things Divers Should Never Do

The following are sensible suggestions of things divers should never do, based entirely on common sense.
January 6, 2016/by jamescouncill

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?
November 17, 2015/by jamescouncill

Equipment Considerations for Sidemount Diving

Divers of all types have begun to find value in this type of configuration and the industry has supported the innovation.
November 11, 2015/by jamescouncill

When to take an Inactive/Refresher Course

For an individual who has not been diving in a while, the return to the water can be both exciting and nerve wracking. Anxiety and concern over what has been forgotten, or what may happen, can get to the nerves of anyone.
November 6, 2015/by jamescouncill

Dive Gear: Tips and Benefits of Streamlining

One of the easiest ways to have a better experience underwater is by streamlining our gear and our bodies.
November 6, 2015/by jamescouncill

The Scariest Dive

Each of these instances shows how normal dive activities can still create circumstances in which a diver may become fearful. The reality is that we as divers must train to remain calm and to develop skill sets that help us to recognize and eliminate problems.
October 31, 2015/by jamescouncill

How Altitude Affects Public Safety Diving

When a public safety dive team is called to perform tasks at altitude, altitude factors associated with dive planning and profiles must be considered.
October 14, 2015/by jamescouncill

6 Tips for Conserving Your Breathing Gas

There are many factors that can help a diver at any level conserve breathing. The following are six basic suggestions that may help you reduce your gas consumption.
September 30, 2015/by jamescouncill

Transitioning from Sport to Tech

You must want to learn more, and take the time to become more proficient in order to remain safe, but you must always make the step into the technical world for the right reasons.
September 30, 2015/by jamescouncill

Is a Service Log Really Worth Keeping?

Various organizations that operate on local, state, and even federal levels, establish rules and regulations that may be applicable to a group taking on public safety diving operations. These regulations may involve equipment service, decontamination protocols, operational standards, team structure, and even the types of operations that a team may perform.
September 16, 2015/by jamescouncill

Do You Have What it Takes to be Part of a Public Safety Dive Team?

What does it take to be a member of a dive team? I get that question quite often from individuals looking to go further in diving or seeking to find some way to be more involved within their communities.
August 18, 2015/by jamescouncill

Scuba Diving and Helping People

As you travel, explore, and continue your dive adventures, ask yourself how you can help others, and make diving that much better for those who love, or may one day love, the sport.
August 4, 2015/by jamescouncill

Adventure and Education Despite the Odds

This entire experience to date shows the heart of the dive community. Time and again, individuals and groups took personal time to spend with a young lady who has a passion for scuba.
August 4, 2015/by jamescouncill

Take Your Tech Diving Skills to the Public Safety Sector

Technical training may be a perfect baseline for any public safety diver. Technical training can teach a diver to perform tasks while close to the bottom but maintaining neutral buoyancy, and move excess items around on the body in a fashion that helps streamline equipment and reduce the effect on diver trim.
 
July 14, 2015/by jamescouncill

These Boots Were Made for Diving: Warm and Cold Water Boots

The truth of the matter is that no one likes cold toes, but warm and cozy toes in the water can make for a pleasant dive.
 
July 7, 2015/by jamescouncill

7 Reasons to Get Scuba Certified

Scuba diving is a sport that allows people to first learn about the sport, and then carry education and experience down various pathways of adventure.
 
June 30, 2015/by jamescouncill

Equipment Similarities in Public Safety Diving and Firefighting

Each day, firefighters use specific gear designed to keep them safe in hazardous environments. This equipment includes items for exposure protection, breathing, and performing tasks.
 
June 16, 2015/by jamescouncill

So You Want to Become an IT?

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.
 
June 10, 2015/by jamescouncill

Diving as a Tourist: Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Diving Group Anywhere in the World

Diving is a sport that inspires intrigue and a need to travel. As divers, we always want to see and experience the next location on our list of places we have not been.
 
June 2, 2015/by jamescouncill

Will Scuba Diving Drain My Savings?

Hobbies, sports, and things we do in our personal time are often outside the realm of typical expenditure and necessary daily activity. For this reason, any expense in regard to these activities may be viewed as excess or unneeded spending.
 
May 5, 2015/by jamescouncill

5 Best Wreck Dives in North Carolina’s Famous “Graveyard of the Atlantic”

When divers ask North Carolina natives what the best dive sites are off their coast, very rarely is the same answer provided. For that reason, I have chosen to list five favorites that are only a small portion of what North Carolina waters have available.
 
April 13, 2015/by jamescouncill

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Rescue Diver?

The purpose behind the rescue diver certification from Scuba Diving International (SDI) is to help individuals develop the skill sets and knowledge base needed to perform self-rescues, basic first aid, and buddy assists.
 
March 31, 2015/by jamescouncill

3 Essential In-Water Communication Skills for Public Safety Divers

Communication is critical for public safety divers. Divers must know they are supported by a surface team that understands the situation, and surface personnel must know how best to protect and support divers under the water.
 
March 18, 2015/by jamescouncill

Best Advice for Diving Dry in the Summer

When diving dry in the summer, comfort is key and the proper amounts of time and effort must be put into maintaining equipment, staying safe, and having fun.
 
March 11, 2015/by jamescouncill

10 Ideal Dives with Dry Suits

To show how dry suits specifically can help any type of diver, we asked five different divers for their two ideal drys suit dives...
 
March 3, 2015/by jamescouncill

4 Tips to Help You Prepare to Testify in Court

Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) has developed a course program designed to help dive team members be mentally prepared to face the courtroom.
 
February 17, 2015/by jamescouncill

4 Tech Diving Questions You Should Ask, But Never Do

It is always better to ask and learn rather than push the unknown within a community that may have sensible answers already developed based on experience and knowledge.
 
February 10, 2015/by jamescouncill

3 Public Safety Diving Courses to Consider for 2015

A team must review where it stands and how it can be better. With training, failure points can be discovered and plans can be developed to prevent future failure. A few training ideas to help improve team capabilities in 2015 are listed below
 
January 21, 2015/by jamescouncill

Why We Love FFM (and Why You Should Too)

The full face mask is a unique tool for any public safety diver. It allows a diver to communicate, gain improved visibility, and protect soft tissues.
 
December 22, 2014/by jamescouncill
Load more

Connect with Thomas

Thomas Powell

Air Hogs Scuba

Cave Excursions

Want to be a contributor?

Great, send us your details below and include your story?

First Name (required)

Last Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Message