On Sunday January 26, The Point Pleasant Dive Team was able to take advantage of the cold temperatures affecting the east coast. The temperature stayed below freezing long enough for ice to form on some of the local waterways. The conditions looked perfect for some Ice diving training.
Ice can form quickly in the local waters if the conditions are right. This beautiful formation can be dangerous as it presents an enticing new playground to walk across or play upon. Many times the ice can be deceiving. Weak spots can form near pilings or cracks can be hidden just under the surface. These can cause the unsuspecting victim to plunge into the water or under the ice without warning. The Dive Team must be prepared to respond to these emergencies, so when we get the opportunity we train in the surrounding areas waters.
We headed out to a quiet spot in Bayhead. This area presents a perfect place for the team to train. It is off of major roads and the terrain offers many areas of interaction with the ice pack.
Chief Nesley led the day reviewing the many techniques specific to Diving and Rescue Procedures on Ice. Four divers took turns falling thru the ice into the frigid waters. There is nothing like feeling first hand your body falling thru the ice and the feel of the ice cold water shocking your body. Even wearing the appropriate exposure suit the cold can quickly zap the strength from your fingers and extremities.
Ice diving requires specific techniques be applied for the safety of the divers and support personnel. One of the most important is the use of Line Communications. As each Ice Diver is required to be tethered via a line while under the ice, communications to surface personnel are executed via a series of line pulls. Each one letting the Line Tenders know of the divers’ current situation or needs.
Joe, Linda, “OJ”, and Bob each took turns diving under the ice while the others acted as surface support. While under the ice, each diver practiced Navigation and/or Search and Recovery techniques. As well as tasks like finding our Chiefs foot stuck thru a hole in the ice.
It was a cold day both under and above the ice. However, each of our divers will walk away with just a little more understanding and experience of the local waters during the winter.