Skip to comments.PJs train to keep U.S. waters safe
Posted on 05/16/2006 8:33:14 PM PDT by SandRat
5/16/2006 - PORTLAND, Ore. (AFPN) -- The 304th Rescue Squadron here hosted a Homeland Defense-sponsored underwater hazardous devices search course at the Portland Air National Guard base May 8 to 12 to help pararescuemen and local public safety divers keep Oregon and Washingtons ports safe from terrorism.
The course is designed to enhance the protection of U.S. maritime infrastructure -- ports, water ways, and ships -- by training public safety divers to search for, identify and mark underwater hazardous devices, according to a Homeland Defense press release.
This training, and the associated increase in critical infrastructure responsiveness it provides, enhances the safety of the nation. Traditional assets such as the military cannot respond to every request for underwater services.
Public safety divers are being tasked to conduct these types of operations on a daily basis throughout the country. By completing this specialized training, they are providing the nation with a highly trained anti-terrorism preparedness capability, said Homeland Defense officials.
Pararescuemen and combat rescue officers from the Air Force Reserve Command's 304th RQS and 305th RQS at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, along with the active-duty 38th RQS at Moody AFB, Georgia attended the five-day course. Joining them were sheriff divers from Multnomah and Clackamas County, Ore., Skamania County, Wash., and a fireman from the Portland Fire department.
The first two and a half days of the training course were in the classroom covering safety and communication as well as search and identification procedures of underwater hazardous devices.
Safety is always a priority when you dive, said Chief Master Sgt. Rich Konopka, 304th RQS pararescueman superintendent. During this class, the students were introduced to a multitude of hazards associated with ships and underwater operations, like the suction from the ships intake system that can pin a diver to the hull, and the safety measures to take prior to beginning dive operations.
During the final two and half days of the course, the pararescuemen and the public safety officers worked together practicing the techniques learned in the classroom. They dove to the hull of the Ocean Pensedor and the Colorado Voyager, U.S. freighters docked in the cold waters of the Willamette River at a shipyard on Swan Island, Ore.
This training increases our underwater search techniques, said Capt. Chris Bernard, 304th RQS combat rescue officer. Whether its a civilian or military dive operation, this training also allows us to provide another service to the community making us a force multiplier during accidents and for anti-terrorism homeland defense to local public safety agencies to help protect and keep our water ways safe.
This training also allowed the military divers to work as a team with the local public safety divers.
Training together helps us make sure our skills and knowledge as well as gear and communications are compatible, which makes operating together more effective, Captain Bernard said. In the post 9/11 world, we need to be able to secure our transit ways. The lines between civilian and military, as far as homeland defense is concerned, are getting more and more blurred. But, when it comes to protecting our homeland, were all in this together.
(Courtesy of Air Force Reserve Command)
ParaJumpers in the Pararescue Squadron.