Firefighter Training

SCUBA Dive Rescue Operations: A Familiarization Course

Issue 2 and Volume 165.

By PETER W. BLAICH As civilian drowning casualties began to steadily increase around the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, New York, from 2008 through 2009, Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Battalion Chief Michael McGrath sought input from the various FDNY resources that respond to water emergencies to streamline FDNY operations within his command. Subsequently, McGrath inquired into the feasibility of conducting a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) familiarization course for chief officers within his battalion. Considering that New York City (NYC) has more miles of waterfront than Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland combined, the rescue battalion cannot be readily on scene at every water emergency, when FDNY divers are required to enter the water for a perceived rescue. Ultimately, responsibility rests with the assigned battalion chief or ranking chief officer on the scene of a rescue SCUBA dive operation. At the time, I was the Special Operations Command (SOC)/SCUBA…

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