When you think of rescues at the sea, I’m sure you imagine lifeguards in red swimsuits running in slow motion through the sand before a dolphin diving into the water and saving a damsel in distress that is flailing around in the water. Now aside from their signature red swimsuit and the help of a floatation device, lifeguards really don’t need that much equipment for when they need to save someone. However, there are some cases that are way out of the jurisdiction of a lifeguard and these cases require much more equipment.
I am of course referring to the cases that are further out in the sea and cannot be reached by the standard lifeguard. These issues are usually resolved by a rescue diver, but what is a rescue diver and what equipment do they need to use?
What is a Rescue Diver?
A rescue diver is someone that has completed a specific PADI diving course which teaches them how to deal with distressed divers and emergencies out in the water. The main job of a rescue diver is being able to notice when a diver needs assistance and how to provide this assistance. Rescue divers are also trained on how to deal with a number of different ailments and what appropriate treatments to give to a number of different medical issues, such as how to deal with the most common symptom of decompression sickness.
What training do rescue divers receive?
To be classified as a rescue diver, you first need to get your PADI rescue certification. You do this by first completing your advanced open water course, which will give you a basic rundown of the ins and outs of diving and how to successfully dive. Once you feel confident enough and have completed that course, you then need to do Emergency First Responder training. The main job of any rescue diver is being able to treat medical issues that may occur at sea, so it is essential that you have all of the necessary first aid training to allow you to do so. After you have completed all of the initial steps, you then need to prove your certifications to whichever company you want to train with. They will then check your certifications are correct and start the rescue course.
Now that you know more about what a rescue diver is, you are probably wondering what equipment they use.
Standard scuba gear
Of course, every rescue diver will first need the standard scuba equipment in order to be able to complete their rescues, these include:
-Mask: This can be a half mask, but rescuers usually use the best full face scuba mask that is available to them, as this lowers equalizing time and combats pressure.
-Buoyancy control device: To allow the rescuer to ascend to the water faster and also keep a neutral buoyancy.
-An oxygen tank: This is to make sure that anyone completing a rescue has a sufficient amount of oxygen for their own safety.
-Weights: Weights are used to make sure that the rescuer can reach the lower depths of the water faster, meaning they can reach the person in trouble much faster.
-Fins: Fins are helpful when trying to push your way through the water and are helpful for rescue divers that are trying to get to someone in trouble quickly. Fins cut through the water faster and are far more efficient than just swimming.
-Snorkel: The snorkel is more for the benefit of whoever is in trouble as they may not have brought their own and need some support when resurfacing to the water.
-Wetsuit: This may feel like a given, but a wetsuit is important for protecting a rescue diver against any nips and scrapes, along with burns that could occur when in prolonged exposure to the sun.
-Dive computer- A diver computer is essential when it comes to protecting the rescue diver. It tells the diver just how far they have dived and how this correlates with their oxygen consumption.
Additional Equipment that they are required to carry
-A knife: As you may know, thanks to humans, the sea is full of plenty of trash and items that people can get tangled in. This happens quite frequently so it is important to have a sharp object that can be used to cut away any obstructions.
-Torch: The deeper you go into the water, the darker it gets. Because of this, it is important to have an underwater torch so that anything that isn’t very visible can be seen.
-Dive flag: The sea can be a very busy place, so rescue divers always use a diver down the flag to inform anyone passing by that they are there and to avoid the area.
-Signal: A whistle or horn that can inform someone of a rescue diver’s location is essential. Usually rescue divers work in teams, so if they want to alert a fellow diver to an occurrence in the water then having some sort of signal device is a must-have.
A rescue diver will never venture out without a boat. Boats allow them to travel faster and also serve as good bases to complete any medical work they may need to. Boats also have a lot more room for storage than your standard human and so rescue divers usually have a lot of equipment stored on their boats. Here is some of the equipment you can expect to find on a rescue diver’s boat.
-First aid kit: This is the most obvious bit of equipment and is a must-have on a boat. You can’t exactly take the kit into the water with you and so rescue divers keep them on the boat so that they can help people when they get back to the boat.
-Foil blanket: Water is really cold and so having a foil blanket on the boat is a must-have for when you rescue someone from the water. Foil blankets allow them to regain heat much faster and will prevent hypothermia from kicking in.
-Buoys: A lot of the rescues that divers don’t even require them to leave their boat. That’s why all rescue boats have buoys on so that they can be thrown out into the water and be used to stay above the surface.
-Oxygen tank: In more serious cases, someone that has been saved may lose consciousness underwater. This is extremely dangerous and means they will be deprived of air, even if they have a snorkel. Having an oxygen tank on board can be the difference between life and death for some people that have been rescued.
-Ropes: Ropes are a must-have for almost all rescue services, especially rescues in the water. Sometimes people will just be struggling on the surface of the water, and so a rope can be used to pull someone towards the board. If there are several people who are in need of rescue, then ropes can make it a much easier task.
-Several pocket masks: It is important to have a supply of pocket masks that can be taken into the water when someone is in trouble as they may not have their own mask.