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Saturday, March 29, 2014
Supplied Air Event with US Border Patrol and Phoenix Police
on: March 26, 2014
by Shawn Harrison
In February I had the
pleasure of being invited to sunny Arizona in order to attend an event that the
US Border Patrol (USBP) and Phoenix Police Department (PPD) where holding. Both
teams were conducting a joint training event on Surface Supplied Air (SSA). Mike
Buck, a member of the US Border Patrol’s BORSTAR team, was informing me that
all members of the Tucson BORSTAR’s Subsurface Maritime Operations Group in
this class received training on SSA. He further stated that “this training
conditions our team for multiple scenarios that we may encounter, and we need
to be prepared to respond.” They also realize that SSA requires specialized
training. Moreover, the deployment of the system into various environments
would provide additional safety factors.
As part of the
training they had scenarios set up in which they would deploy from shore in
boats and even small Zodiacs (as you can see from the picture below). One of
the scenarios involved a vehicle that had been submerged into the water. After
searching and locating the vehicle, they realized it was full of drugs bundled
in burlap bags (the bags where stuffed for simulation of course). They would
then deploy a diver to extract the material from the car. Come to find out,
this is a real situation they might face.
During the scenario,
the SSA diver would deploy from the boat as the tender would guide the diver to
the suspected search area. A search pattern was used to slowly work the diver
back towards the objective. The diver is attached to an umbilical line which
contains the air hose, as well as a safety line and communication line. The
communication line is hard-wired into the system making it more reliable than
wireless systems. The diver has an emergency bailout bottle mounted on his
back; also the umbilical line can act as the search pattern line.
The majority of public
safety dive teams train using Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
(SCUBA) equipment, and both the US Border Patrol and Phoenix Dive Team are
trained in both SCUBA and SSA. This was a great opportunity to see the two
teams working together and sharing information with each other.
I would like to thank
George Herr, David Jordon and the Phoenix Police Department’s dive team, along
with Mike Buck and all the US Border Patrol BORSTAR dive team members for
allowing me the opportunity to take part in this event.
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