Monday, January 18, 2010

Ice Rescue Training and another Seal save...

For the middle of winter, this was an interesting day. It started when Flo Melo, our Assistant Dive Chief, got a call from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center to investigate two more local seal sightings in Manasquan and Brielle, neighboring towns just to the north across the Manasquan River. Throughout our winter, it is very common for seals to come ashore to rest or nap, but this isn't common knowledge. When Flo and Tom went to evaluate the harbor seal on the beach, some bystanders weren't even aware that there were ANY seals in New Jersey. Consulting with the MMSC via cell phone, it was determined that this one was in no distress and required no human assistance other than to be left alone. When we returned later in the afternoon, all that was left was a set of flipper tracks back to the ocean. The second seal, laying on a dock in Brielle, was even a little feisty, vocally letting Flo and Tom know that he did indeed wish to be left alone. We are told that every holding tank in the Stranding Center's Brigantine facility is full right now, so this was good news for everyone!

The Dive Team then conducted an ice rescue drill with the Mantoloking Fire Department. Our Squad provides coverage for Point Pleasant Beach, BayHead, and Mantoloking, so this was a great opportunity to work with other emergency service volunteers who might one day provide us surface support. It was 40 degrees, windy, and rainy, but everyone was ready to drill. Chief Nesley first demonstrated to the firefighters to how to evaluate ice conditions, especially if properly suited divers are not yet available to assist with an ice rescue. The firefighters were then introduced to the drysuits that our divers are outfitted with, and they practiced helping a diver into the suit. We were
especially concerned with proper handling of the suit's zipper and ensuring proper neck seals.

We then went though various shore support and rescue options for the firefighters. Everyone took their turns with throw bags, the safest way to get a line out to someone in ice without risking someone else falling through. We then demonstrated backboard use to remove a victim from an ice hole, and the firefighters got the feel of hauling the board back to shore. We also might call upon the Fire Department to tend line for us. Just like last week's ice diving drill, we practiced tying appropriate knots for a diver's harness. Several of the firefighters also got a feel of our line pull system of communication.

We had a lot of line to clean, but the firefighters were introduced to the equipment we might use and now know what to expect during an ice rescue. We are thankful to know that one day they could have our backs.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ice Rescue Drill ~2010~

On January 10, 2010, the Point Pleasant Beach First Aid Dive Team got the year's serious training off to a good start with a very productive Ice Rescue drill. The weather has been below freezing for two weeks now, with the nights dipping into the teens, so several of the coves on the Barnegat Bay-side of our coverage area were iced over enough to re-drill on ice surface rescues and ice diving.

As always, we started by evaluating the ice conditions. About 4 inches of ice covered the center of the cove, which was stable enough for us to prepare the triangular hole that is standard for ice diver access and egress. All divers were outfitted with harnesses and tethered for their dives. To minimize the chances of tangles, only one or two divers were in at a time, each one with a personal tender, who has as much responsibility for a safe operation as the

We practiced our line pull system of communication, which is simple but works well, especially with each diver focused strongly on navigation. Under the ice in these coves, many of our natural navigation cues (sun angle, sand ripples, channel contours, established currents) are unreliable. Surrounded by steel bulkheads, our underwater compasses worked in some places and not-so-well in others. Eric gets the award for Best, Long, Straight Line Swim. Tom Trafer, training for the first time with ice, found out quickly how easy it is to get disoriented, and the value of an attentive tender. Fortunately, visibility was 5-10 feet, so we all got a nice underwater tour. We didn't see too much in the way of active marine life, but Sue located numerous snails and worm mounds, and
Chet found a small eel, frozen right up under the ice.

We then drilled on Surface Ice Rescue. What do we do when someone falls through the ice? We practiced crossing the ice while distributing our weights, so that the rescuer does not fall though for as long as possible. We then practiced falling through to ensure that you yourself do not go under. The harder parts were getting yourself back out, and, most importantly, getting a victim back out of the ice. We all practiced using a backboard to remove an unresponsive victim out of the loose ice closer to the bay.
Thanks go to one of our Squad's EMTs for keeping an eye out for us, providing hot packs for our hands and chocolate chip cookies too! As much as most of are NOT fans of long cold spells, this provided us with a great opportunity to drill on handling a likely winter rescue scenario.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Years 2010...

On Jan 1, 2010 we did our annual 1st dive of the year at the Manasquan River Railroad Bridge. The weather was cool but calm with no wind and air temps in the low 40's. Water was a bit cool at 38 degrees but we had 5 feet of vis. The vis doesn't sound like much but after getting blown out for several weeks in a row it was welcomed.
Sue L,. Doug H, Milton R, Joe, S,. Chet N, Tom G, and Tom C all dove. Flo M and Bill C provided shore support. Dive times varied from 20 minutes to 45 minutes for the very hardy. I came out with numb hands after being in the water for about 25 minutes. I managed to find some copper sheathing from some unknown wreck. Chet found a blob top belfast round bottle and a smooth round bottle. Some coke bottles were also found.
We were the only hardy fools there considering we hit the water around 8AM or so. Everyone did have a good time though and we followed it up with a search for some frozen underwater lights on one of the inland shore lakes. Afterwards we had a good lunch at the local squad building.

I have to say that this year was relatively pleasant compared to last year when the wind chill made it minus 18 degrees on Jan 1, 2009. I am hoping for more global warming to kick in for next year.

Hope you had a fun New Year's Eve and Day and will have more to come in 2010.
Tom G