Omni Divers Underwater Services, L.L.C., East Wenatchee WA Klamath Falls OR Boise ID (360) 991-2999
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Omni Divers Underwater Services, L.L.C.
Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI)
ERDI 5-Star Instructor Training Center

Emergency Response Diving International

Why Do Department Dive Teams Need Public Safety Training?

A Typical Scenario:

It is 4 am when the dispatcher turns in the call for a car overturned in the river. Two local firemen who are also divers jump in a pick up truck loaded with the dive gear from yesterday's recreational diving and drive to the scene. Upon arriving they immediately suit up and jump into the river to effect rescue. As soon as they step into the water they notice that the current is much faster than they expected and that the water is much colder. The first diver uses the current and drifts to the car and grabs on, the second diver follows. The first diver crawls inside the open passenger door to search for the victim. As the second diver reaches the car his recreational gear becomes entangled. His weight causes the car to shift and roll in the current. He travels down stream in the current and catches an overhanging tree branch. The first diver is effectively trapped in the car only three feet from the surface. When public safety officials arrive they immediately commence a surface rescue procedure to retrieve the second would be rescuer from the tree branch. They also called for a dive team from a neighboring county to rescue the diver in the car. Unfortunately by the time the dive team arrives their rescue is a body recovery. The driver of the car comes back to the scene with the Highway Patrol Officer just as they pull the body of the first diver from the water. The driver had escaped from the vehicle and walked to a neighboring house to call the Highway Patrol.

The efforts of these well intentioned but under trained divers resulted in a needless fatality and putting numerous other professionals at needless risk. The scene portrayed here is fiction, but, scenes like it happen every year. The reason is not really a lack of training, that is a symptom. The real reason is the failure of administrators to realize the need for specialized training and equipment in the field of Public Safety Diving.

Before starting a dive team,

  • each department must weigh the cost of accomplishing the task properly versus the benefit for the community.
  • What will your community gain?
  • Are other resources available to accomplish the same goals?
  • If you decide a dive team is necessary then please decide to adequately equip and train that team.

Do you need Public Safety Training?

Diving is a specialized activity taking place in a hazardous environment. That is why even recreational divers require certification to access equipment, air fills, and dive sites. That recreational certification (called open water) qualifies divers to dive in reasonably calm, clear conditions at depths not to exceed 60 feet. In the recreational diving industry that certification is frequently referred to as a permit to learn, just as a learner's permit is issued to a person completing high school drivers education. We do not allow the learning permitee to drive without supervision, much less operate an emergency vehicle in route to an accident or fire scene. Yet many departments feel that open water training qualifies the diver to dive in the hazardous environments encountered by the Public Safety Dive Team.

Many teams have fallen victim to the Rescue Diver Certification farce. Recognizing the need for additional training the administrator seeks out "professional assistance" from the local dive store. The dive store instructor provides all that he is able to provide, a recreational certification as a Rescue Diver. Most recreational training agencies define their Rescue Diver Course as a self and buddy rescue program. This is adequate for helping your buddy who gets in trouble at 45 feet on the coral reef in the Keys, but not much assistance in the Public Safety Environment.

The diving environment qualifies in every area as a HAZMAT site. Add fuels and oils from a submerged vehicle and we have put multiple hazardous chemicals around the diver. Additionally, those chemicals will destroy the divers life support system if they are inadequate for the job. Place the diver inside the vehicle to do a recovery and we have added confined space rescue in a HAZMAT environment to the picture. How many department administrators would take a person off the street with no formal training and place them in that situation above water? Applied to other areas, imagine taking a person off the sidewalk handing them bunker gear and sending them into a burning building or sending a person to do hostage negotiation with only the information found in over the counter magazines. Yet, almost daily departments do just that with department dive team members or even bystanders that happen to dive. Is this an invitation to disaster? Should you ask the members of your department to accept or even volunteer to be a part of this potential disaster?

So how do you select and understand the type of training you are getting?

When contracting the initial training for your dive team you will probably be limited to two sources - sport certification instructors and agencies that specialize in training public safety divers. The other limited but possible resource is technical agency instructors with specialized experience in rescue operations. The advantage to sport instruction is cost and availability. The drawback is an instructional program which generally prohibits the training of professional diving activities or any diving activity outside the traditional recreational limits. The training focuses on avoiding the situations the public safety diver will encounter on 90% of all calls. Additionally the instructor probably lacks any public safety experience.

From a liability perspective, this may place the department in an indefensible position if training is questioned. From a safety perspective we have created an accident waiting for a scene. These factors are addressed by hiring public safety diving instructional specialist with verifiable credentials and experience. The drawback is availability, since local resources frequently don't exist. That lack of availability will probably increase cost. The department must decide if the increased safety and reduced liability are worth a few extra dollars. That is part of the team's obligation.

How do you qualify the instructor?

The first question to ask is what are the instructors qualifications?
  • What technical, rescue or public safety diving certification courses can the instructor teach?
  • Are those courses certified through a recreational training agency?
  • If so, does the agency also endorse the training of professional public safety divers?
  • Is the training NFPA and OSHA compliant (not compliant with some perceived provisional exemption!)?

Next, contact the certifying agency of the instructor. Ascertain:
  • Does the agency endorse the training of professional or commercial divers for Public Safety Operations;
  • Does the instructors insurance cover him for teaching these types of activities;
  • If the agency finds that their training is questioned in court does the certifying agency have any training standard or provision which would indicate the Public Safety Diver was diving beyond the realm of his certification and training;
  • You may also want to verify the certification level and reputation of the specific instructor with whom you are dealing.

Public Safety Diving and Instruction

If you need more information,
please e-mail us at omnidive@gmail.com


NACDS Surface Supplied Diving Training - Hempstead TX - May 2019

ERDI - Clark County Dive Rescue Team Training - September 2018

ERDI - Clark County Dive Rescue Team Training - July 2018

ERDI - Lacamas Lake Vehicle Recovery - April 2018

ERDI - Clark County Dive Rescue Team Training - April 2018

ERDI - Clark County Dive Rescue Team Training - March 2018

Kona Coast Dive Training - Kailua-Kona HI - December 2017 and January 2018

TDI Surface Supplied Air Diving Training - Frederick MD 2017 - October 17, 2017
October 18, 2017
October 19, 2017
October 20, 2017

NACDS Surface Supplied Air Diving Training - Powells Point NC 2017 - October 12, 2017
October 13, 2017
October 14, 2017

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team - Chaplaincy, 360-991-2999
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team

Foursquare Disaster Relief Chaplains, 360-991-2999
Foursquare Disaster Relief Chaplains

Omni Travel Adventures, 360-991-2999
Mykonos Island, Greece & Italy - Dive Training - Photos June 2017

Clark County Dive Rescue Team Recovery Mission - Photos September 2017

Clark County Dive Rescue Team Recovery Mission - Photos August 2017

Clark County Dive Rescue Team Evidence Technician Course - Photos April 2017

Clark County Dive Rescue Team Full Face Mask Training - Photos April 2017

Clark County Dive Rescue Team Evidence Search - Photos January 2017

Multnomah County SO - ERDI Surface Supplied Diving OPS Level I - Photos October 2016

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Clark County Dive Rescue Team - Photos

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Contaminated Water Diving - WASARCON 2016 Cowlitz County WA - Photos

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Cozumel Mission Trip 2016, 360-991-2999
Cozumel Mission Trip 2016 with Worldwide Christian Scuba Divers Organization

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The National Association for Amateur Radio

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American Red Cross

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Skamania County Sheriff Office Dive Team Training

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International Conference of Police Chaplains Northwest Region #2

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International Critical Incident Stress Foundation

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Cozumel Mission Trip 2016, 360-991-2999
Cozumel Mission Trip 2016 with Worldwide Christian Scuba Divers Organization

Worldwide Christian Scuba Divers Organization, 360-991-2999
Worldwide Christian Scuba Divers Organization

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Omni Divers Photos

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Clark County Dive Rescue Team, 360-991-2999
Clark County Dive Rescue Team

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Omni Divers Flickr Sets

Police & Fire Chaplain's Training Academy

SJCA & USI Underwater Inspection Teams - 2015

USI & SJCA Underwater Inspection Teams - 2015

Josephine County Dive Rescue Team

Josephine County Dive Rescue Team Evidence Recovery

Omni Divers Underwater Services, L.L.C. incorporated May 1984

We are in our 23rd year on the internet.

This is the number of interested folk who have visited this site since web site inception, June 21, 1996.

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Public Safety Dive Training

Omni Divers Underwater Services, L.L.C. incorporated May 1984

We are in our 23rd year on the internet.

Web site inception, June 21, 1996.

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DAN Divers Alert Network - Scuba Diving and Dive Safety Association

For more information on training and classes offered by
Omni Divers Underwater Services, L.L.C.,
e-mail us at omnidive@gmail.com

Current Locations: East Wenatchee WA Klamath Falls OR Boise ID (360) 991-2999

Omni Divers Underwater Services, L.L.C.
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