The final week of dive phase has come and gone… And no better way to end the week then with SAR Techs.
We’re back in Comox this week at the Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Sea Survival School for CSRD (confined space rescue diving). Monday we did some administration as per usual and a bunch of lectures on what we’re getting up to this week. We were taught about vessel stability, when to dive into an overturned boat, when not to. And we were taught a lot about how dangerous doing this is. Diving into an overturned vessel is the most dangerous aspect of a SAR Techs scope of practice. There has even been incidences in a training environment where people have almost drowned. Of course they make it as safe as possible, but things do happen.Thankfully, everything went really well this week. Learned a TON.
The instructors doing a dry run of rescue procedures…
Tuesday and Wednesday all we did was dive. Like always it is walk before you run so the first dive was a “confidence dive. Teams of 2 dove, then got out, next 2, out, next 2 ect all day until everyone has dove twice.
The confidence dive was a quick emergency procedure drill (take your mask off, switch to emergency air, put a different mask on) then diving with a blindfold on while your partner on Comms directed you around the overturned vessel. Then we got out for the next team to dive. While you’re not diving, we all rotated through different positions on the surface needed for the dive. 2 people have to hold the divers lines and give or take slack accordingly. 2 people had to be casualties inside the boat. 2 people helped gear up the next divers ect… It made for quite a long day.
Hopefully the video here works… The course NCO (our boss) being saved by Calvin, out came the choke hold… (click the text)
Dive 2, they put a casualty in the boat that you had to save. So you pound on the boat and listen for survivors inside. We are only allowed diving if there is confirmed survivors. Once you hear a return of the pounding, you can dive. Your partner (who is also in the water) stays at the surface watching the stability of the boat while you dive in. You are on a communication system so if he tells you to get out, you get out. When you find the person, you do a quick assessment, ask if there are other survivors, give them a small breathing device, give a quick lesson on how to use it and you shove them out of the hole you came through. Your partner meets them at the hatch and pulls them out.
As the dives progressed, they made it slightly more complicated. They started adding obstacles, debris, ropes hanging everywhere, telling you to only enter through a certain entrance. They would also brief the casualties on being aggressive or combative, trying to grab your mask ect. Or sometimes the casualty didn’t speak English, just to make it that much more realistic. It can get pretty hectic, and as much as you want to save the person, the feeling of getting tangled sucks!
Here’s a right-side-up and out-of-water version of the exact boat we were diving into… Looks way different underwater.
Thursday my first dive was around 0430. “night dive” into an upside down boat. You strap all these lights and glow sticks and dive. The darkness made it interesting, depth perception changes, things appear different but it was business as usual.. pound on the hull, listen, dive to the survivor, get them breathing on the secondary supply, and shove them through a hole. The night diving eventually turned to day diving and we each completed our “PO Check” to qualify us as Rescue Divers.
Friday we wrote our exam, all passed, and we headed back to the main school for what turned out to be a full day of administration. We’re about to go full swing into back to back phases of this course. On Tuesday we leave for the most northern habitable place in Canada for Arctic phase, we will be incommunicado for nearly 2 weeks, then we go right into winter ops skiing. So whatever we don’t do now, wont get done until March.
We took a break from diving on Sunday and all went on a ski trip…
Needless to say, you won’t hear from me for a bit… But im sure i will have a lot to tell you guys about in a few weeks time. Thanks for reading.