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There is a learning lesson here for water rescue personnel. It may be worthwhile showing this at the next dive team meeting and brainstorm what could be done differently.

Some may recall that public safety diver Mike Gurley died a similar fate years ago. After being trapped for an extended period of time, screaming through his U/W comm system for his teammates not pull any harder (for fear that his legs would be pulled from his body) the decision was made. Mike went unconscious before the final pull was made with a crane. He was brought to the surface in cardiac arrest and resuscitation efforts by his friends and teammates failed to revive him. It was a "simple training dive" gone awry.

Looking at the video and having the advantage of doing a "Monday morning quarterback" some believe an aggressive maneuver with a backhoe should be considered. Breaching the pipe to allow water in (and decreasing suction) is one option. Collapsing the pipe or taking other actions to prevent water flow is another. Is there a gate valve upstream or downstream that can make a difference? The bottom line is the situation is NOT going to get better over time unless immediate actions are taken. Other considerations might include placing a full face mask on the victim (diver or confined space unit) connected to a remote (surface) air supply.

I believe teams should take a moment to pre-plan for a situation similar to the one shown in the video. Who would be called to assist on an operation? How long would it take for them to respond? Who has the authority to stop the flow of storm water? Who is responsible for damage caused by the flooding when storm water stops flowing? Who can make the call to place life safety before property loss in a situation such as the one shown? Will that person have the support of their supervisors, councilmen, commissioners, the press and fellow citizens? Is there a "gate valve" that will stop water flow in the storm water system? Do you know where the "gate valves" are located?

I look forward to the online discussion that will follow.

Please sign on to the SAR Diver forum to see what other public safety divers think and contribute your thoughts. The SAR Diver forum can be accessed at: Forum registration is "free" but participation is restricted to public safety divers and industry professionals. We can also discuss this issue on SCUBABOARD but SAR-Diver may have broader opinions.

The bottom line is we ALL have a need to pre-plan.


Blades Robinson, Director
Dive Rescue International