Fire/medic earns prestigious dive rescue award
November 20, 2011
by Jeremy Nobile | Reporter
Tallmadge, OH -- Locally, residents may know Lt. John Carney as a part-time fire/medic with the Tallmadge Fire Department, which he has served for more than 24 years.
To others, Carney is a teacher -- he has spent 19 years at Akron General Hospital as a paramedic instructor.
Some may even know him from his work with the Akron-based horse-rescue group Another Chance Equine Rescue Inc., where he serves as vice president.
But to America's special class of public safety divers, he is a hero.
Carney, 54, a diver medical technician with the hyperbaric chamber at Akron General Medical Center and director of the Water Rescue Team under the Summit County Special Operations Response Teams, is the sixth person ever to earn the International Association of Dive Rescue Specialists' Robert G. Teather Award for remarkable contributions in protecting the lives of public safety divers.
"Lives have been saved due to the efforts of Lt. John Carney, and lives will continue to be saved because of the work he has done on behalf of the public safety diving community," said IADRS Executive Director Blades Robinson during an awards ceremony at the group's annual conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. in September.
The award, which is named in memory of lifelong IADRS member Cpl. Robert Gordon Teather C.V, has been given out annually since 2006.
"I'm very humbled that I was even considered to win this award," said Carney, who actually met Teather several years ago. "I'm honored that my name was even spoken in the same sentence as Teather's. He was a heck of a nice guy."
"This is one of the greatest honors I've ever achieved in my public safety career," he added. "To be recognized means I've accomplished the mission I set out to do."
That mission, he explained, is furthering the safety of his colleagues and all divers.
"I didn't do all this for myself," he said. "I did it for all of them."
Carney has dedicated years of his life to research that has been compiled in books and applied to spublic afety diver curriculums -- several he co-authored or wrote himself. He has taught and lectured countless public safety divers across the nation with knowledge he has collected through the years.
He and Fred Jackson, Cuyahoga Falls assistant fire chief, both of whom are corporate trainers for a Colorado-based dive training agency called Dive Rescue International, measured heart rates and breathing patterns for Summit County divers in an underwater obstacle course at Akron General Emergency Medicine after learning more about a technique used to mitigate diver panic called "stress inoculation" more than 10 years ago.
"That research resulted in a textbook on the subject being written by Fred and I, and a curriculum published that we now travel across the country teaching to fire department and police department dive teams on how to avoid panic and possible death during rescue or recovery underwater missions," said Carney.
That study was fundamental in the development of the Watermanship Fitness Test, which Carney authored, and the Public Safety Diver Survival Program, which is taught through Dive Rescue International.
According to IADRS, Carney's fitness test is credited with identifying life-threatening cardiac deficiencies in more than a dozen public diver personnel who could have died from the complications during a mission or even training exercises.
Carney said the fusion of cardiac fitness and stress management is paramount in saving a diver's life in detrimental conditions.
He explained how a diver can lose focus when under physical and mental stress. When that happens, simple issues like losing a fin or mask can become potentially fatal mistakes.
"Basic skills are the one issue where public safety divers get into trouble," said Carney.
The Watermanship Fitness Test has been adopted by the National Fire Protection Association, making it a standard for thousands of police and fire personnel. The test has even garnered interest from the U.S. military, which Carney actively works with.
Most recently, Carney authored the curriculum for the Animal Rescue for the Swiftwater/Flood Rescue Professional, which is taught at the University of Akron's Training Center for Fire and Hazardous Materials. That program fulfills FEMA training requirements of water rescue personnel for methods used to save animals in disasters and emergency situations.
As an accomplished instructor and dive team leader with diverse experience, Carney is lauded among his colleagues for his special skills and for promoting safety.
Tallmadge Fire Chief Patrick Gaffney described Carney as a "tremendous asset" to the local squad.
"We're happy to have him in our department," said Gaffney. "We're very proud of the fact that John is one of our contacts on the water end of the Summit County teams."
Cuyahoga Falls Fire Chief Paul Moleder has worked with Carney for more than a decade. Moleder is the director of operations for Summit County Special Operations Response Teams, of which water rescue operations comprise one of the agency's three branches -- the other two are the Technical Rescue Operations and Hazardous Materials Teams.
"John is very fitting of this award," said Moleder. "I can't think of anybody else who deserves this more than he does. He's committed to safety, and he does a very good job at it. That's just who John is."
Carney's skills in the handling of animals in emergency situations, he added, are particularly noteworthy and unique.
"There aren't many people who can talk to emergency responders about taking care of animals in a flood environment," said Moleder. "That's tremendously special."
LINK TO THE IADRS WATERMANSHIP TEST:
INFORMATION ABOUT ROBERT G. TEATHER, C.V. CAN BE FOUND AT:
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11-26-2011, 12:39 PM #1
Robert G Teather Award presented to Lt John Carney
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