Monday, September 13, 2010

Rescue 34 Boat Training....

Between the bad vis last week, and the nearshore leftovers from Hurricane Earl, our Rescue students and other Dive Team members have spent the last two weekends training with our boat and more surface rescue techniques.

We took Rescue 34 out (our 16 foot Zodiac rigid hull inflatable), first launching in Barnegat Bay and heading north up the Point Pleasant Canal, a manmade channel to Manasquan River, then out the busy inlet to the ocean.

An experienced crew member offered this advice about Rescue 34 to the new crew: "You don't ride in this boat; you hang on to it." We worked together to read the waves and shift body weight appropriately, allowing the driver to better get up on plane readily and maneuver efficiently. We also practiced coordinated surface scans and communication protocols with the boat operator about surrounding boat traffic.

Offshore, we had a little space to practice surface rescue techniques, such as dropping a rescuer off the boat to directly assist a victim in the water, and then extracting the victim. Chief Nesley and Tom C first demonstrated how to safely roll out of the boat at high speed (which, if you execute correctly, is a bit of fun). They then showed how to get yourself back into the boat unassisted, and how to assist a victim. Rescue students Milton and Joe took a few turns at it themselves and shortly showed improvement. We returned nearshore to practice closer to the beach swells, and at one point, two BayHead lifeguards even swam out through the waves to meet us. They got themselves into the boat, and we gave them a lift two beaches north back to where they came from. Milton and Joe demonstrated their new high speed dropoff-in-the-surf skills, which the lifeguards then replicated. They thought it was cool enough that they swam back out to the boat, climbed in again, and we dropped them off a second time at the beach where we started!

We've also taken advantage of the warm water to get in a little open ocean swimming and snorkeling. Today, we finally found clear water - 1 mile offshore! Free diving down from the surface, we found near-tropical water full of comb jellies and salps (aka "jellyblobs"). Fortunately, these organisms are not stingers, so we emerged unscathed.

Although much of this training is beyond the scope of a PADI Rescue Diver course, these are all practical skills for us to have under our belts in Point Pleasant Beach.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rescue Dive Training then a Rescue...

Rescue class continued on Sunday, September 12 for Milton and Tom T. With the annual Tube Race coming up next week and some sloppy waves building on the beach, we began there with surf entries. We worked on observing the surf, timing waves, and making over and under approaches. We also practiced entries and assists with rescue cans, and assisting a victim out through the surf.

We then moved our operations further up Manasquan River at Gull Island. We revisited panicked and unconscious divers at the surface, and utilized several forms of egress.

We had just finished the session, visited the 7-11 across the street for coffee, and actually jumped into a real rescue! Another dive class was beginning with the tide still coming in strongly. Most of the class was sufficiently far enough away from the railroad bridge to function, but one pair of divers ended up in the center of the channel too close to the bridge and was swept underneath. All by itself, this presents no danger, but the tide washed them up against the marina docks. Here all they could do was hold on, as the current was still too strong to swim back against, and it would have been difficult to work back to shore along the docks from there while being washed underneath.

Milton and Tom headed down the marina docks to assist from above while Chief Nesley jumped in from the bridge for the quickest response from water. When contact was made, the divers were quickly tiring from hanging on in the swift current and at least one was becoming panicky. Chief Nesley held onto the first diver and had her float under the dock to the leeward side, making it easier for Milton and Tom to haul her up onto the dock fully geared. The second diver was instructed to also move to the downstream side of the dock, and the extraction was repeated.

Our Rescue Divers learn very quickly that class sessions are not just academic exercises - skills really sink in (no pun intended) when you immediately apply them. You never know what is going to happen!