Divers with the Fredericktown Community Fire District took part in a slightly different training than usual on Saturday at the firehouse. No, the department has not added a pool to the facility, but rather the firefighters setup one of the portable tanks used to supply water on the fire ground and utilized it for a training area. Underwater in the photos are FCFD divers Ben Beever and Tom Durbin. At the communications is diver Lt. Kevin Suain.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), one of the leading dangers that divers can deal with is becoming entangled in something while in the water. Search lines, wires, debris, and aquatic plants are all possibilities that can cause them to get hung up. Unlike a fire scene where firefighters can get grouped into rescue teams, the availability of rescue divers is harder to come by.
After getting geared up the divers entered the very shallow water and had their facemasks obscured to disorient them similar to being under water. In waters throughout the fire district, the majority have very little visibility, especially once a diver comes in contact with silt in the area and stirs it up. Once under the water in the portable tank, the divers kept communicating with a dive tender by utilizing tethered communications, updating on progress and likewise the tender advising what he saw as well. Those helping with the exercise would continually tangle the divers in different manners to challenge their skills to not only recognize the emergency, but also work to free themselves and keep calm during the process.
The FCFD area has 630 acres of public recreational lakes, not including rivers, streams, ponds, and quarries that it is also responsible for protecting and responding to. Utilizing two different types of boats, a dive rescue trailer, and a variety of safety equipment, the dive team is available by mutual-aid anywhere they are called.