One of my favorite times on scene during a recovery is when people start asking questions. It’s not always from bystanders either. It can be from police officers or firefighters, or sometimes the poor kid who “just forgot to put it in park before I got out to tie down the jet ski, and that’s why my truck, trailer, and jet ski are underwater.” Whoever it is, their questions tend to be the same.
Most people don’t grow up around the beautiful waters of the Caribbean. They grow up swimming in the nearby lake or mud hole like I did. There was no way you were going to see the bottom until your face hit it. And if you can’t see the bottom, it must be bottomless! This reasoning alone is why we will always need Police and Public Safety Divers. People believe that water somehow swallows whatever gets thrown in. Gun, car, body, favorite pair of glasses, it don’t matter. It’s lost and gone forever. They believe a lot of things that are not true when it comes to water. You think I’m kidding?
These are the top five questions I get while on scene during a recovery, and how I usually answer them.
1. Question Asker: You’re gonna go dive in that water?
Question Asker: But it’s disgusting!
Me: It helps build your immune system.
2. QA: How deep is it?
Me: How deep do you think?
QA: Like…*wrong number* feet. (It’s never close. They will always go 10-20 feet deeper than what it is).
Me: No it’s only *correct depth* feet.
3. QA: Are you afraid of gators? (I live in South Florida)
QA: Why not? You know I’ve seen one in here!
Me: Oh yeah? Well maybe we will get lucky and get to pet him!
QA: No way man! You’re crazy!
4. QA: How can you see?
Me: With my eyes.
QA: But that water is nasty!
Me: I have magic eyes.
5. QA: What are you looking for?
Me: Pirate gold!
QA: No, really?
Me: No, really. Pirate gold.
You can probably tell I like to have fun with it. Some questions you can do that with and some you can’t. But you will always have the opportunity to teach them something. I have been on recoveries where I spend more time explaining how we do what we do to the police or fire personnel than actually doing the recovery. They just don’t know what’s really in that murky abyss. That’s a great time to build relationships and trust. Some department dive teams want to be this secretive group that does their thing and clears scene. Don’t be that group. You can do more for your team’s reputation by teaching others about what you do than you realize.
Part of the training for my team is how to deal with questions. We go over scenarios on questions that might get asked and how to properly handle them. They know what can be answered and what needs to get kicked up the chain of command. This is something that I would encourage you to do with your team. Because there is nothing more embarrassing than your divers not even knowing how deep the water is.