Diver Checklist

Diving operations performed by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Underwater Search and Rescue Unit will be conducted under the following guidelines: 

  • All diving operations will be supervised by a dive master who has the experience and training necessary to oversee the diving operation.


  • Prior to the water entry of any diver, a standby safety diver will be fully suited as is reasonable for prevailing conditions.  The safety diver will be prepared to immediately respond as may be necessary to an underwater emergency situation.  This requirement is inclusive of:


    • The safety diver being equipped similarly to the primary diver.


    • The safety diver being in possession of an auxiliary tank of an appropriate breathing gas with regulator attached, to be supplied to a primary diver as necessary.


  • Upon instruction of the dive master, dive team members will prepare their equipment for diving and standby for further instructions.


  • Members of the dive team are responsible for the maintenance and set-up of their equipment (both personal and county issued).  Team members will perform a function check on all their individual equipment in preparation for a dive.


  • Prior to entering the water, a designated tender will check and re-confirm the ready status of a diver’s equipment.  Equipment to be checked is inclusive of the following:


    • Full-face mask (FFM):  Integrity of all connections (IE: second stage regulator firmly attached, E/O connector, battery connection, activation of diver’s communications unit).


    • Pony bottle with auxiliary regulator: affixed to the right side of the main gas cylinder, close to the backpack, valve in a position that can be readily reached by the diver when fully suited. The mouthpiece of the auxiliary regulator must be affixed to the diver in such a manner as to be readily available in an emergency.  (Alternatively, a “Spare Air” unit can be affixed to the diver in a readily accessible location.)

        • Dive mask:  worn backward around neck or contained in a pouch or pocket on the diver’s person.


        • Adequate exposure protection.


        • Connection of the BC power inflator hose to the inflator unit.


        • Diver’s possession of two (minimum) cutting instruments (IE: knife, line cutter, shears, side cutters, etc.)


        • Diver’s possession of the following gauges: depth gauge (or dive computer), pressure gauge (or air integrated computer), compass, alternate timing device (watch, bottom timer, etc.)


        • Weight belt (or weight system) securely attached.


        • All consoles, octopus regulators, etc. clipped close to the diver’s body so as to facilitate trim.  All clips utilized must be of a positive locking type.


        • Search gear appropriate to the operation.


  • Operations not requiring the use of FFM / Comm. units may have differing equipment requirements:


    • The dive mask shall have a snorkel affixed thereto.


    • If the pony bottle / “Spare Air” is not utilized, an octopus regulator or  air- integrated inflation device (IE: “Air II”) must be employed.


  • Nighttime, overhead environment or dark water operations additionally require:


    • Light – two (minimum) required (main light plus a back-up light).


    • Nighttime operations require the use of a personal illumination device (IE: “Cyalume” light stick, personal strobe, battery operated light stick, etc.)


  • The tender will then confirm that there is a safety diver in stand-by mode prior to advising the dive master of the diver’s readiness to dive.


  • In all cases where a diver is found to have defective / missing equipment, that diver will stand down and not be permitted to enter the water until such time as the deficiency is corrected.


  • Upon entry into the water and prior to a final descent, the diver will confirm his communications capability with the topside comm. tender.


  • In the event that a communications link cannot be established with the topside tender, the diver will be recovered from the water and an effort made to remedy the cause of the problem.  Should the problem not be able to be rectified, the decision can be made to do any of the following:


    • Stand the diver down and replace him with another diver.


o       Abort the diving operation.


o       Should a mechanical problem exist with the topside unit that cannot be immediately remedied,

 A safety diver can be placed into the water with the primary diver in order to establish diver-to-diver communications.  The safety diver will not descend any deeper than necessary to establish and maintain communications with the primary diver and will remain on the ascending /descending line except in the event of an emergency involving the primary diver. 

o       In the event that diver-to-diver communications cannot be established utilizing FFM and Comm. gear, the operation can revert to the use of regular dive masks and second stage regulators.


·        Each primary diver can be tended by a safety diver stationed at the junction of the ascending / descending line and the primary diver’s search line. 


·        Communications will be maintained through hand signals (visibility permitting) and line pulls.  This is not an efficient deployment of resources. 

·        Dive operations can be conducted without the use of FFM and comm. when necessary and it is reasonable and safe to do so.


·        It must be kept in mind that not all diving operations are compatible with the utilization of the FFM / Comm. system, and that in such cases, the dive master can make the determination to utilize standard scuba facemasks and second stage regulators with the concurrence of the on-scene Sheriff’s Department SAR official.


EXCEPTION:  The above procedures and equipment checks are mandated except in those instances where it might be possible to affect a rescue and save a life.  Rescue efforts must be closely evaluated after an elapsed time of one hour since a victim was seen alive.   



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