Rescue or recovery, refers to the ”mode” in which the dive team functions. In rescue mode the team puts an all out effort to find the missing person. It is only used when there is a chance to save a life. Recovery is when the Team concludes the missing person is dead, thus risk to personnel in an all out effort is unwarranted. Before any Team operations can commence, the team must know if it is operating in a rescue, or recovery mode. They must weigh all risk versus benefits they are facing. When the team is set up so each member arrives independently, then the first arriving member should start accumulating information, and formulating a plan, before the actual Team Leader arrives.
Knowing when to be in rescue or recovery mode requires that the team preplan for any type of situation they might encounter. This requires getting all available history at the scene. A diver using a 80 cubic foot tank that has been missing for three hours may not require rescue mode. However the same diver missing 15 minutes does.
Once the discussion of operating in the rescue mode has been made, select a course of action that will solve the victim’s problem, with the lowest degree of risk to the rescuer. Life saving procedures depend on informed judgments about the best course of action from unattractive alternatives. The team must be aware of its limitations, and work within them. Not every diver is superman and not every team is equipped like the U.S. Navy.
Once starting a rescue operation keep everything as simple as possible. Conduct brief interviews, and make quick accurate decisions. The first team should be doing a quick search as the other members of the team pursue additional information. Do not try anything that has not been practiced, discussed for difficulty, and then practiced again at an actual scene. As adrenaline in the rescuers increases, the need to do only what he is trained to do also increases.
The Army trains men to fall as soon as ”key” words are commanded, or certain sounds are heard. When someone yells ”incoming” or ”grenade” everyone that can hear jumps for cover. This is an example of instinctive training. No one stand around and says where or what he did he say, they just dive for cover. This type of training should be done for the dive team. Instinctive training comes from doing the same thing over and over again.
Remember to keep everything as simple as possible and do not try anything new at the rescue site. Know your limitations and use the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. Train on procedures and practice them. There is another principle called the 4-P’s: Piss Poor Prior Planning, don’t become a victim of the 4-P’s
When recovery mode is used to perform the operation a slower pace may be used. Rescue mode will switch to recovery mode after enough time has passed to warrant it. When doing so be sure not to cause undo stress to the family and friends of the victim.
The risk of the operation must be considered during all scene evaluations. Does the ultimate goal of the operation merit the risk to dive team personnel? Do not overlook this point by rushing blindly into the water. In a rescue operation the benefit will be considered high and a certain amount of risk justified. This does not mean caution is thrown to the wind. In the recovery mode a high degree of risk is unjustified.