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NEWS | Aug. 29, 2018

511th EDD Soldiers ‘dive’ into supervisor training

By Senior Airman Tristan Biese 633 Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Army Soldiers from the 511th Engineer Dive Detachment participated in dive supervisor qualification training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Aug. 20-24, 2018.

The training qualifies 511th EDD Soldiers to become unlimited dive supervisors, allowing them to oversee dive team missions on their own.

“We have to go through a series of drills and scenarios to ensure we understand how to react during diving emergencies,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Miller, 511th EDD diving supervisor. “[This training] allows us to supervise without having someone backing us up. [Leadership] is confident that you are responsible and that you know what you are doing when you take a group out and complete a mission.”

The duties of the dive team range from underwater engineering, underwater recovery, security swims, as well as port inspections and openings.

“When most people think of diving, they know it’s a very dangerous job,” said Sgt. John Egizii, 511th EDD salvage diver. “[The dive supervisor] needs to be able to trust us and we need to be able to trust that they will be able to take care of the problem and handle any situation.”

During the training, Miller acted as an unlimited dive supervisor, where he had to make split-second decisions that best support his team and the mission.

According to Miller, everyone on the team has an equally important role – each plays a part in completing the mission, and their lives depend on one another. The supervisor is responsible for listening and making decisions based on the information from the console operator, the communications operator and the tenders.

The console operator in is charge of how much oxygen divers are getting as well as their depth. The communication operator relays information between the diver and the team, as well as logging the mission. The tenders check and assist with divers’ gear, and also help them get into and out of the water. A diver also remains on standby, only jumping in the water when needed.

One of the training scenarios entailed a dive team member’s leg being trapped between metal, and the standby diver started experiencing numbness in the face. Miller had to decide who to bring up first, and how to properly treat each team member.

Although geared toward supervisors, Miller said the training helped hone the entire team’s skills, allowing them to react like they would in a real-world mission.

“This [training] is what makes our team effective and efficient,” Miller said. “We learn to trust each other and build comradery between the team. Everyone here is relying on each other to complete the mission.”

There are four dive teams at JBLE who rotate duties throughout the year: on deployment; deployment recovery; home-station operational duties; and deployment preparation – all the while each team continues to train and sharpen their skills, waiting for the call to action.