FCTRT Continues Dive Rescue Training with “Black Out” Masks and Underwater Props

Members of the Fayette County Technical Rescue Team recently went underwater to continue their dive rescue training.  The Team training includes both classroom and intensive hands on training for all of their dive personnel and support staff.  In addition, the Team regularly conducts Operational Readiness Exercises in an open water environment to improve both their effectiveness and skills.

“Obviously our dive rescue training is being provided to better prepare our dive rescue personnel for responding to water incidents,” said Captain Chris Bauer, the Team’s training officer.  “We want to catch mistakes here, and not make mistakes when we are trying to locate a victim or other object,” said Bauer.

All of the Team’s dive unit members must first be certified in Open Water scuba diving.  Thereafter, each candidate for the dive unit then undergoes intensive additional training for dive rescue and recovery which incorporates additional skill sets that need to be mastered, such as diving in dark water with little to no visibility.  In addition, two of the dive unit members have completed an extensive dive rescue class through Dive Rescue International and the Team plans on sending additional dive unit members to these types of nationally recognized training sessions in the future.

“On nearly every dive that we complete in this area we are dealing with near zero visibility in the water,” said Commander Kevin Snider.  “The best way to describe it is if you are blindfolded in the middle of an unfamiliar home and told to locate a victim and safely escape the premises,” remarked Snider.  “To train our dive unit members in these invaluable skills, we use “black out masks” that completely cover the divers mask providing zero visibility and then practice underwater searches to locate objects such as the recently purchased underwater mannequin; basic tasks such as tying knots, correctly assembling various items, and completing hookups for vehicles; and then send them through various underwater entanglement and other props, which requires the divers to extricate themselves from the hazards of underwater diving in a controlled and safe environment such as a dive pool,” said Snider.

The Fayette County Technical Rescue Team currently has 9 certified divers, is a member of the International Association of Dive Rescue Specialists, and provides specialized emergency response to fire departments and agencies who request additional assistance without charge and is comprised of 31 volunteers from various emergency response agencies and departments.  For more information about the FCTRT, please visit their website at www.technicalrescueteam.com