LEXINGTON, Ky. - (4/30/13) - The Lexington Fire Department (LFD) spent Saturday, April 27 continuing their Rescue Dive Team (RDT) training at the University of Kentucky Lancaster Aquatic Center. Trained and outfitted for aquatic search, rescue, salvage and evidence gathering, the LFD is one of the best-equipped departments in the region for underwater operations.
One key to the LFD's success is the use of surface air supply systems, as opposed to the traditional scuba gear in use by most other departments. The surface air supply system utilizes air tanks on the surface, feeding the air to divers via 200-foot-long breathing tubes. This system allows the divers to work for longer periods of time uninterrupted, since surface "tenders" can monitor the diver's air supply and change out tanks without requiring the diver to resurface, according to RDT Lt. Jordan Saas.
Of course, equipment is only part of the reason behind the RDT's success: training plays an even bigger role. As Captain Ryan Hogsten points out, to qualify for the RDT, each diver must complete a 100-hour certification course, as well as 70 hours of ongoing training per year. During Saturday's training, the RDT used a PVC mockup of a submerged automobile to simulate search, rescue and salvage techniques.
According to Lt. Mark Isaacs, the RDT Dive Commander, that combination of top-notch training and specialized equipment helped the RDT respond to 12 incidents in the past two years, including search and rescue, vehicle salvage, body recovery and evidence gathering. To ensure the fastest response time, the RDT's 30 divers, 16 tenders, and their equipment are split between Rescue 1 and Engine 9. Engine 9 is located off of Richmond Road, putting it in close proximity to the majority of Fayette County's bodies of water.
The RDT's ongoing training, such as what took place Saturday, helps keep it one of the premier underwater response teams in the region.
Information provided by Lt. Mark Isaacs - RDT Dive Commander, Lt. Jordan Saas – RDT, Captain Ryan Hogsten - RDT
Photos provided by Matt Milano
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