ERD (Emergency Response Diver) EXPERIENCE – Mermaid’s CDC
WHY ERD – What is it?
Emergency Response Divers:
- pert dive programs – (Non-vocational training/experience – Night time response diving and submerged vehicle recovery)
ERD – Emergency Response Diving is very unique in many ways from other diving environments and diving activity. Many ERD Divers begin as recreational divers but move on to this type of diving if living in an area that calls for certain skills. Recreational divers are trained in such a manner to ensure maximum enjoyment from diving activities that involve minimal risk. If we were to dissect the recreational Open Water Scuba class for its content it would be a dive training program designed to teach divers to avoid dangerous situations and common emergencies. ERD’s (Emergency Response Divers) or PSDivers (Public Safety Divers) lack many of the common luxuries afforded to the recreational diver – It is a dive job. A recreational diver gets to choose the ideal weather and water conditions, looking for maximum enjoyment on the dive. If the dive conditions are not desirable then the diver might move his recreation time to another enjoyable pastime until he can dive, maybe later or a different day. However, the ERD is expected to resolve life threatening situations or other situations where diving conditions might be considered less than ideal. Boats are more likely to sink in bad weather, people are more likely to drown in hazardous water conditions, cars are more likely to enter water where roads are icy etc – the ERD is expected to respond where and when these tragic circumstances arise… erdi..
The ERD experience was offered by the Mermaids CDC, Pattaya, Jomtien, Thailand dive training academy (This is not vocational dive training). The program was not easy but it is not designed to be – not every one is fit or strong enough and or even of the mindset to wish to experience Emergency Response Divers’ role – bear in mind this was a job experience taster. Drills and Skills and certifications would need to be furthered much more by companies such as PERT to enter the industries’ arena. Those that have the experience state that it is one of, if not the very best dive experiences that they have taken. All of the guys dive and work as a team effort – there are many responsibilities in an ERD team – See general Public Safety Diver positions here – (to enter the realm of Public Safety Divers professionally further training according to service specific requirements will be required.
The Public the Diving experience course was challenging…There were classroom sessions, pool training, beach and ocean days. Each day there was confined session (pool work) where many challenging swim tests as well as dive training exercises were given. Below are just a few of the tests / exercises involved.
The Experience entailed:
Confined Watermanship assessment sessions:
- 400m swim no equipment max time 9 minutes.
- 400m swim full scuba max time 12 minutes not using arms.
- 100m tired diver tow max time 4 minutes full scuba.
- 15min tread water during which each diver will support 4.5 kilo above water line for at least 1 minute.
Blind bailout exercise from 2.5m using blacked out mask.
Swim 23m UW without mask, recover and clear mask before surfacing.
Dive to 2.5m retrieve 4.5 kg weight bring to surface support for 30 seconds then return to bottom and replace weight.
There are much more than this…
The fitness testing and skill tests continued through the experience and is a building block as to whether you have what it takes to be an ERD – again, this was an experience – to look into the realm of PSD and further specialised diver training required try www.pert-training.com as a starter. Fitness is essential but only one building block that creates a diver to dive as an ERD. Equipment is a very large part of the experience program and all have to get used to different forms of dive equipment and equipment configurations.
Equipment configurations can be very different to recreational divers as we were taught:
- You very rarely dive as an ERD with a buddy and hence a spare tank called a pony will need to be carried – this is essentially replacing your “buddies” octopus that they would have given you “had they been there”. Your buddy is now in the form of a shore / land based buddy that is attached to you by a tether (line).
- FFM (Full Face Mask) equipment has to be learned. This allows a diver to be able to keep water from the face as much as possible and communicate underwater diver-to-diver and diver-to-surface.
- Equipment must be configured to ensure that all gauges, hoses and other possible snagging items are nicely secured and streamlined to avoid catching where possible.
Generally a Public Safety Diver will be diving alone in adverse conditions. As you know, you will need to be self sufficient and hence a pony bottle is carried due to the absence of a buddy. Your buddy is now at the end of a tether and is land based providing you with support. The Tender (or shore technician) is a very important role in an ERD team as responsible for the diver. Communication between the diver and the tether will be via underwater communications systems and a series of communications signals via “rope tugs”.
Stress tests & Simulations:
The Emergency Response Diver will never get to dive in preferred and chosen conditions and hence the worst has to be trained for. Far removed from the lovely clear tropical Thai waters – Zero visibility needs to be trained for. In order to simulate zero underwater visibility, blacked out masks are used. It would be too easy to allow a blacked out mask to be worn – it has to be VERY realistic training experience that prepares the ERD for a whole host of realistic scenarios. The visibility might be very bad or zero and hence this can lead to a whole host of other problems such as entrapment, snagging on lines/cables/hoses etc and even air depletion due to not being able to correctly read gauges. You might even get tangled in your own support tether line – all is trained for.
Stress tests are given such as air depletion and entanglement during the experience for the potential ERD to deal with…character building!
Self rescue and buddy egression:
The ERDI training covers many “what ifs” and scenarios of diver egression if an ERD has a problem.
Many scenarios such as self rescue and blind bailouts to diver rescue such as unconscious diver on surface and unconscious diver on the bottom are covered in great detail.
Search patterns and much more …
An Emergency Response Diver with unique dive training and skills will be called upon for a wide variety of tasks. The range of dive jobs and tasks is very wide indeed but will more often than not demand the location of an object. This can be a body, piece of evidence, lost object, missing person to name just a few. In-depth search techniques and skills required by both the diver and the tether are demonstrated for experience – for further details please refer to www.pert-training.com.
To be an ERD (Emergency Response Diver) really does demand a very tough skill set as a diver!…but it is our job to ensure that you are delivered these…
Congratulations to the ERD experience Mermaid’s guys…The TEAM!
PERT/ERDI Level 1:
A note from a Mermaid’s CDC trained Emergency Response Diver:
“I know we e-mailed as a group last week but I would like to add my personal thanks for the ERDI course it was by far and away the best course I took during my time at Mermaids and I know the whole group felt the same way. I left for home on the 22nd and so I would also like to thank you and all the staff at Mermaids for making my time with you one I will never forget. As such it is another big thank you for you and all the staff”.
Emergency Response Diver Interest: