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Discussion in 'Ideas and Stories' started by DeepSeaDan, Apr 5, 2010.

  1. DeepSeaDan

    DeepSeaDan Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: Ontario, Canada
    993
    123
    43
    I am an Acting Captain for a 84-man suppression F.D. in S. Ontario. Our city is bisected by the Otonabee River, where numerours water flow control dams exist. There is also a small lake ( or a VERY wide portion of the river! ) within our response district. Currently we are providing Level 3 water rescue service, though our current o.g. states that "no underwater operations will be carried out".

    A little history. Years ago we had a "Dive Team" ( prior to my joining the dept. ) of a dozen or so lads. Their mandate was limited to body recovery, as they operated a "call-in" entity. Regretably, the team folded due to discrepencies in their training practices, and the fact that the O.P.P. provided body recovery Province-wide.

    My Dept. has, for the last several years, added various technical rescue disciplines ( high angle, trench, confined space ) to the existing water rescue & haz-mat services. We recently moved to a "team" approach to providing these services, with 8 men per Platoon ( 4 Platoons ) trained to the "Ops. level" in all disciplines, and the remainder of the men trained to an operational support level.

    What I'd like to do is add "Underwater Rescue" to our portfolio of rescue services.

    Here is my idea:

    > U/W rescue capability of limited scope, utilizing on-duty personel.
    > Responses limited to witnessed drownings
    > Strict search protocols, with limited area & time parameters
    > 2 sets of enclosed, wall-mounted gear ( apparatus floor )


    The focus would be quick deployment to the scene with a 4 man crew ( shore or boat ) - R.D. 1 ( patient search ), R.D. 2 ( Stby. diver ), line tender, Supervisor. A float w/ weighted line is deployed. R.D.-1 performs a circle search or sweep via search line, tethered to the float, to a max. radius 50'. If no patient is found, the search is terminated ( save for ice water conditions, where longer search times might prove worthy ). If the rapid search procedure fails to locate a patient, we stand down & call in a recovery team.

    A few questions:

    > Do any of you operate such a capability from your full-time dept.?
    > If so, how do you operate?
    > Equipment used?
    > A written o.g. in place?
    > Track record?

    This idea is in it's infancy, though I have talked it up previously in other forums. At that time, my dept. showed no interest in the concept, & I backed off. A new Chief & an evolving service philosophy has encouraged me to continue the effort. What I'm looking for initially is opinions regarding the concept itself. I realize there are many pitfalls & operational complexities to address, but first I'd like your thoughts on the idea itself.

    Any feedback proferred is much appreciated.

    Regards,
    Daniel J. Vale
    Acting Captain
    Peterborough F.S.
    deepsea@rogers.com
    dvale@peterborough.ca
     
  2. ditch-diver

    ditch-diver Instructor, Scuba

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    I see you are in Ontario, which means that as soon as you put someone in the water on compressed air, you fall under the Canada Labour Code because you are now considered commercial divers. There are very strict rules and guidelines you HAVE to follow as there is legal (criminal) implications if you do not. Add to that, the Ontario regulations (I do not have a copy on site here) but they are normally even more restrictive than the Federal laws. (For example you cannot have a dive tender off your weighted line like you suggest) Please bear in mind that because there are not similar laws in the US, advice on the board here from south of the border can sometimes be in direct contradiction to what you are legally allowed to do here. There are several top shelf dive teams in Ontario, OPP and I believe Peel Regional. Talk to them, they would be up on what you would need to get off the ground
     
  3. bridgediver

    bridgediver Instructor, Scuba

    758
    5
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    Hey Dan

    Sounds pretty good to me. What city?
    We do but we don't have a dedicated team in 1 house. We will converge to the scene which is not as bad as it sounds because we do EMS as well. Response times are pretty fast
    We don't splash a diver unless we have a 5 man crew. A 2nd standby diver has proven very valuable and necessary a lot of the time - so we have 3 units pre-rigged in our response trailer.
    We perform all recoveries/rescues in southern Alberta for the RCMP (as well as our municipality).
    In Canada we're all bound by the CSA standards of diving (which aren't that hard to adhere to). Provincial OH&S regs are also something that will affect you - Ontario's are more stringent than Alberta (from what I've heard)
    viking dry suits, full face masks, hard wire comms, redundant air supply (scuba) are the cornerstones of what we use.
    Absolutely
    We inherited the team from the cops in the late 80's. When the CSA's were beginning to come out we realized we had a lot of deficiencies in our program in terms of equipment, training and procedures (basically just used standard scuba gear while holding onto a rope by hand).
    We usually do about 4-5 body recoveries and about a dozen vehicle assists a year. As far as I know we've done only 1 actual rescue (3 yrs ago). Most of our responses are outside of our municipality.

    To add, the biggest challenge is finding and maintaining a good training program. The training is more expensive and longer (compared to other rescue disiciplines) and it takes a while to develop good PSDs AND tenders.
    Equipment is important for sure but its not too difficult to convince the brass to get what you need if you stick to your guns.
    Try to get at the recovery work in the area if you can too. Rescue calls just don't happen very much and your team will need the experience.
    The biggest advice I can give you is please make sure you find a REAL PSD training agency. This is a totally different realm of diving and I'd suggest proffessional PSDs to start you off not somebody that only thinks they know PSD

    hope this helps

    If you have any more questions; shoot!

    Mark
     
  4. DeepSeaDan

    DeepSeaDan Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: Ontario, Canada
    993
    123
    43
    { Edit: Sorry - got my responding poster names wrong! }

    ...I absolutely agree that diving regulations must be adhered to as they apply to scuba operations ( I worked marine construction as a commercial diver for several years in Ontario, under the Diving Regulation 629/74 ), the regs. states:

    PART VI
    S.C.U.B.A. DIVING

    Prohibitions on S.C.U.B.A. Use

    36. (1) The diving supervisor for a diving operation shall ensure that S.C.U.B.A. is not used by,

    (a) a diver working near or in an operating underwater intake;

    (b) a diver working near or in a pipe, tunnel, duct or other confined space;

    (c) a diver working at a water control structure;

    (d) a diver using any power tool, hoisting device, explosive, burning equipment or welding equipment;

    (e) a diver placing any materials underwater in a way that poses a risk to the health or safety of the diver;

    (f) a diver operating at depths in excess of 100 feet; or

    (g) a diver working in a diving operation to which Part XI applies.

    (2) For the purposes of clauses (1) (a) and (b), a diver works near a thing where the proximity of the thing to the diver poses a health or safety risk to the diver. O. Reg. 629/94, s. 36.

    Minimum Crew

    37. (1) Whenever S.C.U.B.A. is used, each employer associated with a diving operation and the diving supervisor for a diving operation shall ensure that,

    (a) an adequate number of diver’s tenders, and in any event at least one diver’s tender, is present at the dive site;

    (b) an adequate number of standby divers, and in any event at least one standby diver, is present at the dive site;

    (c) an adequate number of divers, and in any event at least one diver, is present at the dive site; and

    (d) one person does not act at the same time both as diver’s tender and as standby diver for one or more divers.

    (2) Whenever S.C.U.B.A. is used, the diving supervisor may also function either as a standby diver or as a diver’s tender. O. Reg. 629/94, s. 37."

    Further, according to "Underwater Industry.com ":

    "Current Ontario diving regulations do not cite CSA Z275.4, however draft regulations currently in the public domain require that divers be trained to a level of competency equal to or exceeding the competency requirement of the Standard….”. “Standard” is defined as CSA Standard Z275.4-02."

    I'm working on gaining a copy of this CSA Standard Z275.4 -02


    Using a 4 man crew as I described, & not falling under any of the "prohibitions" to using scuba listed in the Ontario diving regs., I feel we would comply ( besides, I know a few of the inspectors in Ontario personally, & I can square it all with them ).


    I'm not sure what your referencing by saying "you cannot have a dive tender off your weighted line like you suggest". There will be only one diver in the water; one dedicated Tender ( the diver will not be tethered to surface; rather, he will stay in contact with the buoy line via his search line which will be attatched just above the buoy line weight ), one dedicated stby. diver ( dressed in ), & one Supervisor.

    These are just preliminary thoughts; if anyone can suggest a better procedure, I'd be happy to listen.

    Thanks again for your input!

    Regards,
    DSD
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
  5. DeepSeaDan

    DeepSeaDan Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: Ontario, Canada
    993
    123
    43
    Peterborough.

    I'm hoping for two sets of gear in each station, along with 3 sets of search apparatus.

    I can do 5 or more for shore-based ops., but our boats will only handle 4, plus a patient. for this concept, speed is of the essence, as we are trying for a "save", & you know well the limited time we have ( save ice water conditions ).

    Ours would be strictly rescue. The O.P.P. handles body recovery.


    Right - you're outfit handles a multitude of tasks, thus the need for tethers, comms. etc. Ours is a very, very limited scope, as I laid out previously.


    I'd like to know the details on that one, & the patient(s) outcome(s).

    .

    At this time, I think I'll be handling the training for the group. We will be using a single, standard seach technique. The drill will be the same every time. No fast fast water ops., no ops. that would put the diver at undue risk. We will embrace the k.i.s.s. principle! Much of the waters we service are benign much of the time - these are the waters we can respond in. Period.


    Yes, it's always a fight to get funding, & I have to compete with the other specialties for a share of the budget! I think conventional scuba will be all we need for such a limited scope. The river does not exceed 30' in any area - most areas are considerably shallower.

    Won't happen - it's beyond the scope of what I feel is possible. I plan to have them out at least once per month, going over the standard search protocol ( on dept.time ) I hope to take them diving frequently on our off time, where we can combine some training with some fun.

    Do you really believe this to be necessary, based on the limited scope I've presented?

    Very much, & I hope you continue your interest as this ( hopefully! ) evolves.

    Note: It was a pleasant co-incidence to find there are several "u/w rescues" published on this forum!

    Regards,
    Dan
     
  6. ditch-diver

    ditch-diver Instructor, Scuba

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    18
    I'm not going to bother harping on the life line/weighted buoy thing...., if you are only rescue there are provisions for that and to save a life you can do things different.

    For rescue stuff, get a hold of the Coast Guard in Vancouver. They have a full time rescue team on the west coast and are always open to questions. They have been around for a while and can give you some advice on what works and what doesn't for them. Also for fire/rescue logistics, get a hold of some of the fire teams that have divers on staff for rescue (Miami-Dade County has like a bazillion divers on every shift) Maybe they can provide you some tips on set-up and distribution of equipment for rapid deployment. Sorry I can't help.., not a rescue guy, just a body snatcher
     
  7. bridgediver

    bridgediver Instructor, Scuba

    758
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    Gotcha. Our boats are the same so can you just bring 2 boats? tandem boats are a good idea anyway in case of break down (very bad). The key is to respond all the elements (minimum 5 guys, 2boats), it doesn't mean you can't start the op until they all get there. We often have 2-3 arrive first; they can survey the scene, suit up, deploy etc - this takes a few minutes. Buy the time we're ready to splash the diver everybody is on scene and can take a role.
    No different than 2nd & 3rd trucks into a fire scene


    You can set this up for rescue too. It'll make things both easier and safer if you can get it




    Short story is the driver of a car had a MI and drove into a canal. The car was only partly submerged and he was unable to remove himself from the car. Sometime between our response and arrival on scene he lost conciousness and head became submerged (witnessed) probably 5min. No VE needed just opened the door and pulled him out. Restored respirations almost immeadiately, regained conciousness about 5min after that on route to hospital. Pretty sure he pulled through...
    .


    I do. At least audit a course to see for yourself. They can help you immensely in setting up a team to make sure you get the right gear and procedures the first time! I'll bet all of your ideas have been tried at least a hundred times by these guiys (and in your situation too) they'll know better than anyone what will work and won't work.
    Don't try to reinvent the wheel yourself
     
  8. DeepSeaDan

    DeepSeaDan Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: Ontario, Canada
    993
    123
    43

    Any boat response for us requires at least two boats in the water ( one for back-up ). On our river we have numerous launch points. The river is divided into 3 zones, one for each station, thus the first arriving crew of four ( never any less than 4 ) would launch while the next closest station will launch a.s.a.p. & move to the scene. Thus I would need u/w rescue response trained personnel & equipment at each station.



    Not sure there. Doing a rapid circle search while on umbilical supply or a tether could create a serious fouling problem; comms. are always nice, but is all the expense & potential for muck-up worth it for such a limited scope? Another reality to face is a limited budget for training & maintaining proficiency, thus I need to keep things as simple as possible, while incorporating the highest degree of rescuer safety allowable & still be effective ( risk analysis & all that ).




    Good job. So no defib. required eh? We had a similar one, but it had to be handled the old-fashioned way: Elderly chap loses conciousness behind the wheel ( can't recall what condition he suffered ), motors into the middle of the river. Pumper is driving by not long after; F.F. leaps from the truck, swims out to where a cop is already tuck diving down to the car 15' below. F.F. makes an attempt, realizes he needs a f.e. tool, swims back to shore for a hammer, back out, takes out the back window, hauls buddy out & to shore, defibs., gets him back. All's well. That call could have gone south just as easily, thus the need for a more professional approach, I reckon.




    I hear you. Who does your service go to for their training? I've heard Andrea Zafares / Butch Hendrik speak before - "Lifeguard Systems" I believe. They have been in the training game a long time. I know of a few others, including Dive Rescue International, who seem to be the largest agency providing PSD training. I was hoping Blades would chime in on this thread, perhaps he will. I agree that an audit would be a good start - thanks.

    DSD
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2010
  9. bridgediver

    bridgediver Instructor, Scuba

    758
    5
    0

    Tender directed sweep or arc searches are the easiest and most effective. I know where you're coming from with the circle search - they sound like they'd be the fastest but they aren't. I can't remember the last time we did a circle.
    Just something else for you to ponder:D
     
  10. ditch-diver

    ditch-diver Instructor, Scuba

    231
    7
    18
    What Bridge said..., in a large majority of cases, anywhere you can do a circle a pendulum will work too. We have just found that it works easier, and for sure you need a good tender to control your search pattern. (Just make sure you boat drops a bow and stern anchor point to prevent the boat from swinging and screwing up the search pattern.)

    Given the questions you are asking, I can't stress enough you should look into taking a PSD course. I know a lot of it may not apply to you for what you want to do, however it'll answer a lot of your questions and the rest you can simply file away
     

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