NFPA, IADRS and Annual Physical Fitness . . .
The National Fire Protection Association recommends an Annual SCUBA Skills Review and a Watermanship Test. To meet the NFPA requirement, the International Association of Dive Rescue Specialists, a non-profit organization dedicated to diver safety, developed two forms so PSD team members could meet the NFPA requirements. Our department (Indian River County <FL> Fire Rescue) uses the IADRS forms and they can be downloaded at no charge at the following URL:
As it relates to the question on public safety diver fatalities, there have been 51 public safety diver fatalities in North America since 1960 (none in 2003!). At least three of these were directly attributed to medical conditions ("metabolic acidosis" in NC, Coronary Aneurysm in PN, and possible heart attack in CA). An incident in IL (June 2000) is probably related to poor physical fitness and there are others where stress/panic resulted in fatalities. Because of the panic state is directly related to the adrenalin induced heart rate, we know that good physical fitness will lower the stress threshold, and it for this reason that the NFPA recommends a "watermanship evaluation."
We also know that stress can be caused by poor SCUBA skills and that is another reason why NFPA recommends the Annual SCUBA Skills Review.
The International Association of Dive Rescue Specialists will be hosting their next annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL in November 2004. At this conference, an eight hour session will be dedicated to Public Safety Diver Survival with four hours of discussion and four hours of in-water skills. Leaders in the PSD industry will use the four hour discussion session to explain the relationship between physical fitness, stress and panic. It is too much to explain the science online but it is accepted fact by many public safety diver educators that good SCUBA skills and good physical fitness are two of the easiest ways to prevent public safety diver fatalities.
For more information on the IADRS' 2004 International Water Rescue Conference where PSD Survival, Homeland Security in Ports and Waterways, and other programs are discussed, call 800-IADRS-911.