Past Reviews

Here are some comments made by our students. If you would like to contribute your opinions about the training you have received, please contact us.

LGS Training

“LGS is the best training agency in the US today”.  C. Boeckel, Middletown, NJ

“In 99% of classes I attend, I am reading my Kindle and counting the minutes until I can leave.  I didn’t take out my Kindle once during this class” – Michael O’Brien Brookfield PD, Brookfield, CT

“I have taken over 800 hours of classes at the state fire academy and I have not had any instructor as knowledgeable as the ones in this class.”  Allen Stephens  Columbus FD, Columbus, MS

“I am a member of a volunteer fire department in Whitehall, PA.  Our team consisted of several recreationally trained divers with certifications ranging from open water to divemaster, and all equipment was personal gear which was not standardized.  We were able to get the department to buy standardized gear for all of the divers, but we realized we were still missing a key component… Public Safety Diver Training.  Over the next few years, several of us attended courses designed for Public Safety Divers put on by various instructors and organizations.  Although I could spend a lot of time telling you about the bad experiences we encountered with some of them, I can without any hesitation recommend one company . . . Lifeguard Systems!  We scheduled a Rapid Deployment Search and Rescue/Recovery course in our town, and opened it up to other organizations.  We were able to train a large group of our divers, while also generating some reimbursement from enrollment by students from outside our department.  Since that first class, we have continued to utilize Lifeguard Systems, and at least three other local agencies have also scheduled programs with them.  Lifeguard Systems provided us with well thought out procedures that were proven in real life situations.  They taught us not to take something for granted without testing it in realistic conditions.  The most important thing we learned is that we only have one job we must do on every call out . . . we need to go home at the end of the day!  This emphasis on safety of the PSD is paramount to their training method.”    Joseph Shambo  Deputy Chief of Rescue Whitehall Fire Department  Whitehall, PA

Rapid Deployment Search And Rescue/Recovery

“This past week I took the RDSR program in Portland Conn.  I was overwhelmed by the teachers and the systems taught.   Andrea and Ken did a fantastic job.  I received great information to bring back to my dive team.” Michael Mason Harwich FD

“The training I have received from Lifeguard Systems has been invaluable to myself and our Dive Recovery Team. We have changed our techniques to reflect those taught by Andrea and Bryan. there has already been a significant improvement in our recovery operations. The confidence level of our divers has also increased. I look forward to more training in the future with the excellent staff of Lifeguard Systems.”      Captain Philip Hamrick –  Childersburg Fire & Rescue Department, Childersburg, AL,   Co-Captain, CFRD Dive Recovery Team

“I would like to take this opportunity to express how much the members of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Dive Team who recently complete Rapid Deployment Search and Rescue/Recovery found the training a worthwhile investment in training time and cost. We found the course well organized and on the cutting edge of what is currently available. In addition to your efforts, those of your assisting staff members are also appreciated and recognized as being of professional caliber. We all now have a better understanding of what our current resource and skill limitations are and what we must do to develop and improve our capabilities. Thanks for an excellent training course. Keep up the good work and spread the word.”  Wayne Valentine   Northeast Region Dive Officer, National Park Service

“Our three day training session in August proved to exceed our high expectations.  We’ve always felt that, as a team, we had an excellent group of divers and were quite well prepared for the job that we are called to do. Starting with the first evening session, we could see the passion for what you teach and that you had well founded reasoning for your procedures.  We knew from this point that this would be a learning few days. Both of you brought to us, as a team, a new vision for how we need to operate.  You’re right…finding something is easy.  What’s hard is to do it in a safe & methodical way while documenting and recording the complete
operation for immediate and future use.  You have put us on the right track of accomplishing this and we now have the knowledge tools to polish our operational procedures.
I’m sure we’ll be working with you in the future!”   Michael J. Knorr   Training Committee  Valley Water Rescue, Moorhead, MN

“I am a rescue diver for Whitehall Fire Dept. in PA. I have been through 2 courses from LGS, Rapid Deployment Search and Rescue/Recovery, and Rapid Deployment Ice Diving Search and Rescue/Recovery. I enjoyed them both, learned a lot, and I look forward to the next one. The techniques work since we started using them (twice with positive results).”  Mark S. Fujita – Whitehall PA FD

“On behalf of the Drowning Accident Rescue Team, I’d like to thank you for putting on the Rapid Deployment Search and Rescue Dive Course. All those that had the opportunity to attend the course came away with valuable knowledge I know will be employed to a high degree in our future operations. Thank you again for your team’s expertise. Bryan and Andrea were superb instructors.”   Steve Rankin D.A.R.T.  Elk Grove, CA

“I have been active in the fire service for 28 years and have attended a training class or two. However!!! This past weekend had to be the BEST TRAINING I have ever had!!! If any of you ever get a chance to attend any of LGS training DO IT!! You may have flashbacks from any past military service and you’ll go home tires…but you will learn that the most important thing to learn is to be sure that “YOU GO HOME WHEN THE JOB IS DONE!!”  Len Hoben, Whitehall PA

“I would like to personally thank you and your staff for sharing with me your experience and suggestions that will enable me to return safely home after each dive. Your suggestions for enhancing not only my personal, but our teams readiness will enable us to serve our community better when the need arises. In over seventeen years as a Police Officer, I can not remember when I had the privilege to work with as well trained and professional team as I did last weekend. Thank you again for taking the time to share your expertise and ideas with us.”  Robert J. Rine, Deputy Sheriff, Erie County NY

“I was fortunate enough to take your Rapid Deployment Search and Rescue/Recovery course at the Pittsfield FD. I just wanted you to know what a valuable experience it was. I have been diving for going on twenty six years and although I have taken many rescue courses I have never learned so much in  such a short period of time. As a Fire Training Instructor for Berkshire County I know how important it is to keep things interesting so as to keep students attention. Let me just say that I can’t speak for everyone, but I was certainly “glued to my seat”. Thank you for a great course and teaching me so much.”  Bob Lamb, Training Officer, Cheshire FD, Cheshire, MA

I think this class should be a standard to being on a dive team — just like going to the fire academy to be a fire fighter.” — Rick Stapleton, Conway FD, Conway, AR

“We learned a lot about how to work together as a team.  Learned why it is so important to go home safe at the end of the day.  Whether you are a new team or existing team, LGS has something for everyone to learn.  You can never know enough about safety.”  Christopher M. Gross, Valley Water Rescue, Fargo, North Dakota

“Extremely worthwhile.  During this course you will be tested as a diver or tender.  This course makes you think not just now but to be prepared for what is going to happen in the short and long term.”   Paul Shereck, Valley Water Rescue, Fargo, North Dakota

“Great info.  Great instructors.   Great Experience.”  Kipp Anderson, Valley Water Rescue, Fargo, North Dakota

When asked if the class was worthwhile? “YES! this class was very informative and hands on.  It is much more useful than Dive Rescue I ever was.” – David Tefft, Auburn Fire, Auburn MA

“A must-have if planning on or already have a dive team.  I realized how much I didn’t know….it’s not as simple as sending a diver out on a rope.”  Brian Ouellette, Charlton FD, Charlton, MA


Public Safety Diving

The following is an excerpt from MEDIA REVIEW in Advanced Rescue Technology Volume 4, Number 4 Aug/Sept 2001 by Norm Rooker, EMT-P   Reprinted with permission of Advanced Rescue Technology, Van Nuys, CA

Public Safety Diving By Walt Hendrick, Andrea Zaferes, and Craig Nelson. Fire Engineering Books/Pennwell, 2000, ISBN 0-912212-94-2. $39.00

Finally, water rescue takes on many forms: swiftwater, surf, still, contaminated water, flood and dive rescue/recovery, to mention just a few. Like other rescue disciplines, the type of rescue and training for a given water incident is highly dependent on circumstances and environment. Charging an ill-prepared department with performing a water rescue can be somewhat akin to asking a paramedic to write a traffic ticket or a “ground pounder” to ventilate a roof at a structure fire. Both tasks fall within the overall realm of public safety, and both providers fall within the same realm, but the specialization of their training did not prepare them for these tasks.

This is tragically illustrated by two points. One, the National Fire Protection Association states that a firefighter is four times more likely to die at a water rescue incident than at a fire. Secondly, on April 18, two eastern U.S. firefighters, members of their department’s dive-rescue team, lost their lives attempting a body recovery in conditions for which they were not properly trained or properly equipped to operate.

A kayaker had flipped and drowned in a rain-swollen creek when his kayak became lodged in a strainer (in this case, a downed tree). An hour and a half later, the two dive team members entered the swiftly moving water roped together, and tragedy ensued for a second time.

Water-rescue specialists, but not the right specialists for the job. With that said, what, exactly, is a dive-rescue specialist, and what do his/her training and capabilities consist of? To answer that question, the final review in this column is on a new release from Fire Engineering Books, titled Public Safety Diving.

While I am a member of my departments surf-rescue team, my diving knowledge and experience are extremely limited, so I asked my former partner and sometimes evil twin (he’s now my Captain) Mike Whooley, who is also a past media reviewer for EMS Magazine and a certified diver, to read Public Safety Diving and share his impressions. They Follow:

It’s cold. Cold and dark. So dark that it’s difficult to see your glove in front of your face plate.

You’re methodically moving across an underwater debris field most people wouldn’t let their animals near. You’re alone – the only sounds you hear are your own bubbles and the quiet voice of your tender on shore. You are comforted by the fact that two of your teammates are suited up, ready to swim to your aid at a moment’s notice. Still, you haven’t yet found the object of your search. Then your hand brushes something. You grasp it and bring it closer to your face. Welcome to the world of public-safety diving.

In their book, Public Safety Diving, authors Walt Hendrick, Andrea Zaferes, and Craig Nelson give an excellent overview of the job and mission of the public-safety diver. For most of us, diving is a recreational sport, preferably done in clear water with temperatures in the 70s to 80s. Public-safety divers operate in the advanced technical realm, with adverse conditions and zero visibility at their job site.

The first sections of the book deal with setting up, funding, personnel, equipment, and defining your mission. I would recommend the sections on personnel selection and funding be required reading for present dive team leaders, as well as anyone contemplating the formation of a team. The section on wildcat teams should also be read by anyone who thinks that an ad hoc team without public sponsorship is the way to go.

The middle sections of the book deal with the actual mission itself, with particular emphasis on continued practice both on dry land and in water. Too often, because of the relative infrequency of call-outs, this area gets neglected. A variety of search patterns and techniques are described with good illustrations.

The book closes with special conditions, such as contaminated water, ice subsurface diving and law enforcement considerations. Again, good, solid material, designed to make you think before putting your team in. Public Safety Diving is a must-read book for the public-safety dive team member, leader or anyone who is thinking about putting a team together. By the end, you’ll know that it takes more than just a C card (beginning dive certification) to pull it off.


Aquatic Death and Homicidal Drowning Investigation

“In 11 years of attending countless trainings, I felt like I learned the most from this class”.  Bryan Aeschbacher, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Falls, ID

Would you recommend this course to others?  Why or Why not? “Yes-should be required for all dive and detective divisions”. Aaron Walker, Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, Sandpoint, ID

“Awesome class.  Very well done. I have never had a better class”. Andrew Sheganoski, Burlington County Medical Examiner’s Office, NJ

“I learned a lot of seful info for both CID/Child Death Investigations as well as dive team work”.  Jack L. Steinberg Greensboro Police Department, Greensboro, North Carolina

“A both a diver on the Sheriff’s Office’s Dive team and a crime scene investigations, I now know what to look for”. Schyler Travis Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Durham, North Carolina

“I learned more about homicide investigation in the 2 days than in the combined total of 3 other courses spanning 2-5 weeks”.  Detective Daniel Taylor Plano Police Department, Plano, Texas

“There is so much info in this course that will help us conduct more thorough death investigations”.  Detective Patrick Mulhern Plano Police Department, Plano, Texas

“Bringing Law Enforcement, Fire, Coroner, EMTs together for this training is absolutely a must.  Having all the potential stakeholders trained the same improves your chances of a successful investigation”.  Commander Jerry Gatlin Kane County Major Crimes Task Force/St. Charles Police Department, St. Charles, Illinois

This training was fantastic.  Not one boring topic and Andrea kept everyone’s attention.  Andrea’s life/work experiences are a must to hear”.  Jeff Ricedorf Montgomery Police Department, Montgomery, Illinois

“I have never attended a class that went into this much depth regarding drowning”.  “I think all patrol officers should attend a class like this, so much evidence can be lost in a short amount of time”.  Sgt. Peter Juda, West Hartford Police Department, West Hartford, CT

“The material and instructor were awesome! I will never look at another drowning the same way again.” Gene Battaglia – Retired Police Office, Dublin, CA

“Every detective should take this course.  Simple awareness of drownings, scene management and exhibit / evidence preservation (packaging).” – Cst. Christian Reister, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Calgary – Major Crimes Unit

“Very eye opening.” – Stan Colenutt, Lethbridge FD, Lethbridge, Alberta

“Andrea does an amazing job of presenting it.” – Brad Davis, Lethbridge FD, Lethbridge, Alberta

“Would like to see it more available to police, general practitioners and local medical examiners.” – Sgt. Roxane Baalim, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

“[to] more 1st responders, police, EMS/fire, prosecutors, medical examiners, emergency physicians” – Joe Manyfingers, Blood Tribe Police, Lethbridge, Alberta

“Would like to see it applied / instructed at our basic academy.” – Det. Robert Claus, Alaska State Troopers, Klauock, Alaska

“More for the 1st responder to start the investigation faster, so that the scene is not contaminated. – Robert Perotti, Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Springs, CA

“[would recommend] to everyone.  Especially patrol officers, first responders, LAPD Academy.” – Omar R. Bazulto, LAPD, Los Angeles, CA

“One of the greatest eye openers.” – Deputy Jared Dahl, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange Cty, CA

“I couldn’t imagine another death investigation without this course.” – April Smith, Deputy Coroner, Riverside County Coroner’s Office, Riverside Cty, CA

“[would recommend] to all law enforcement medical and coroner / medical examiner personnel, so that suspicious circumstances are not overlooked as natural or accidental deaths.” – Denise Ferris, Riverside County Sheriff – Coroner, Riverside Cty, CA

“It will change how you handle your scene / death investigation forever.  Drownings will never just be an accident, tragedy from the start.” –Sandra Joseph, San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office, San Diego, CA

“One of the best courses in 21 years.” – Mark R. Malamatos, San Diego County PD, San Diego, CA

“It’s something every investigator could use.  There are not many classes that give this type of information.” — Mark Bullock, Etowah County Sheriff’s Office.

“For anyone in death investigation, this course is a must.” — Clay Pouquette, Yuma PD, Yuma, AZ

“Every dive team should attend this training.” — Sgt. Lisa Colwell, Yuma PD, Yuma, AZ

“Lots of good information that helps to open the eyes to the fact that many drownings are not accidental.” — Laura Willson, Prescott PD, Prescott, AZ

“It should be a required course for all detectives.” — Lt. Chad Brackman, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Maricopa County, AZ

“I don’t know where else I would have gotten this valuable information.” — April Lopez, Phoenix, PD, Phoenix, AZ

“This is a very important course for all first responders to experience.” — Latroy Campbell, Goodyear PD, Goodyear, AZ

“The more people that know what to do at a scene make it easier to do the job with less mistakes.” — Dan Popovich, Massachusetts State Police, Barnstable, MA

“Lots of eye opening facts.  Great for all first responders — Police, Fire, EMS, etc.”  Robert O’Brien, Hanson FD, Hanson, MA

“Due to this training, I will never again look at a drowning as accidental, until all evidence is examined first.  A valuable course for all first responders.”  Don DiDomenico, Abington FD, Massachusetts

“Yes, every Investigator who handles any body in water cases should attend this training.” — John Krause, Peoria PD, Arizona

“All information presented was relevant to real world water related and homicidal drowning investigations.” — Det. D. Jones, Avondale PD, Arizona

“Information learned in this class can and will help all Investigators in all agencies nation wide and, it is highly recommended to all in the future. Your class should be full.” — Jerry Jaram, Apache County Attorneys Office, Arizona

“Loved this course, very objective view along with fresh material. This area of investigation is mostly overlooked. Zaferes presented the material like a motivational speaker.” — Chief Depty. Investigator Paul Kirkham, Apache County Attorney’s Office, Arizona

“I learned how to properly process a drowning scene.” — Adrian Garcia, Solano County, CA

“Absolutely! [would recommend]to everyone- EMS, Police and Coroner/Deputy Coroner should have this class- Oh, let’s not forget Laywers and Judges.”  Mona Fellers, Grand Junction, CO

“Loved it! Great job!  I learned more in 2 days than I have ever learned in a lifetime.” Allie Phelps, Colorado

“[worthwhile course] I have learned more in 2 days than in my life regarding CSI…I would recommend it to anyone in the field of criminal justice.”  Tyler Pacheco

“Most worthwhile.  Second only to the actual dive course for how much I learned.  It embodies a change in thinking that needs to occur service-wide.  I most liked the shift from an acceptance of ‘accidental drowning’ explanation and the 3 questions.”   Doug Sherwood, Calgary PD

“Great tools for actually conducting investigations.  Extremely practical.  Fantastic.  Absolutely [recommend this course] to investigators and rescuers.  Very knowledgeable instructor with data to back nearly everything and experience.  This was among the top courses I have taken as an investigator in over 11 years on special investigations.  Inspiring!”  Detective Eric Ronning, Oregon



Custom Course

“This letter in reference to Lifeguard Systems and the water rescue class they provide. Six Flags Great Adventure highly recommends their services and programs. In April 1996, production started on a new water ski/stunt show for the 1996 season. As the planning, rehearsing, and production moved ahead, it was apparent that specialized training in water rescue was going to be needed. Lifeguard Systems was recommended by other paraprofessionals in the area. Prior to any actual training, Lifeguard Systems spent many hours viewing the show, interviewing performers and technicians to gather information regarding their concerns, abilities and roles, and developing a rescue program that was tailored to our needs and stunt show. Once the rescue program was developed, four training sessions were held. The first session, all the technicians were present, EMS and the Fire Department were represented, but only one performer was in attendance. During that session, all the “classroom” work was covered. After the first session, more performers became interested in the class. Lifeguard Systems then set aside additional time just to work with the performers. The last three sessions were all practical in nature. While crews were practicing lifesaving techniques in the water (both for the victim and the rescuer) other crews were practicing skills on land. Some of the skills covered on land were CPR, rope bag throwing, basic life support, and C-spine immobilization. The in-water skills included spinal injury management and transport with backboards, buoy deployment, and self-rescue for the rescuer. The last day was spent dealing with simulated rescue scenarios with varying degrees of injuries. Aside from the preparation and actual training, Lifeguard Systems provided Six Flags with a list of recommended safety procedures, corrective measures, and needed rescue equipment they felt was warranted by the level of activity in the stunt show. What impressed us the most about Lifeguard Systems was their professionalism, their friendliness, and their genuine interest in both our questions and concerns and in making the stunt show a safe show, both for the performers and the would be rescuers.”  Edward A. Zakar, Safety/Risk Manager & Bob O’Neill, Manager of Entertainment, Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ


Surface Ice Rescue

“On behalf of the officers and members of the Port Henry and Moriah Fire Departments, I wish to extend our sincerest thanks to you and to your staff for presenting the Surface Ice Rescue Level I Course to our area on January 31 and February 1. This much needed training for our region was very well received and enthusiastically attended by (45) Fire, EMS, State Police, and DEC personnel. The program Lifeguard Systems presented provided much theory and demonstrated the vital hands-on training necessary to perform surface ice rescue techniques safely. We look forward to participating in more programs of this caliber and enjoyed working with you and your company in making this particular program a tremendous success.”  James A. Hughes,  Port Henry Fire Department, NY

“Best class I ever had”  Mike Snyder Goodwill Fire Co.

“This is an important course and should be given on a regular basis to all interested personnel.” Peter Olson, Locust Valley FD, Locust Valley, NY

“There are many bodies of water in our district that may be dangerous.  The training is invaluable.”  Thomas J. Winslow, 2nd Lt., Locust Valley FD, Locust Valley, NY

“Already (recommended) to Gibbsboro Chief for a 2010 course.  Lifeguard Systems Inc. provided superior instruction to entire class.”  Joe Osisek, Gibbsboro Fire Company, New Jersey

“Valuable hands-on training.  Cannot receive actual practice & experience any other way.”  G. Charney, Winslow Township FD, New Jersey

“The instructors were very knowledgeable and passed on the information in a good and understandable way…fun and very educational.”  Ben Fitzpatrick, Winslow Township FD, New Jersey

“I’ve taken other rescue courses in the past and this was by far the best training experience around.”  David Klotz, Winslow Twp FD, NJ

“I would definitely recommend this course to others.  I feel much more confident with my skills because of this course.”  Rick Graham, Youngsville FD, New York

“Even though you may only need this once or twice in your lifetime, it will be well worth having the knowledge to be successful.”  Aaron Newton, Phelps FD, New York

“The knowledge base is excellent.  This is the team to train with.”  Steve Kepner, Bristol VFD, New York

“Any department around ice / water should have this course.   Staff worked very hard to get everything working for us and I appreciated it — thank you!”  Jeff Ayers, Racine FD, New York

“We have numerous lakes and rivers in our area.  We have a high probability of an incident like this happening.”  Andy Dietz, Randall RD, New York

“It was very, very informative.  I didn’t know there was this much to know about ice rescue.”  John Love, Randall FD, New York

“It is a great opportunity to get trained and work with tools / equipment you haven’t seen before.”  Matt Foster, Town of Raymond FD, New York

“There is a good probability of using this training in my response area.  Good class — interesting — informative — confidence building.”  James F. Thigpen, Jr., Cranbury EMS

“Was a great course on how to safely, efficiently, and quickly recover a victim in an ice rescue situation.”  Matt Von Sas, Penn Township Vol. Emergency Squad (PTVES), Pennsylvania

“Dispelled many “myths” of ice rescue — lots of hands-on –great info, very practical.”  Joel B. Hummel, Penn. Township Vol. ES, Pennsylvania

“I was very impressed with the incorporation of medical knowledge in this rescue class.  I would recommend this class to my Paramedic School Directors.”  Andrew Capone, PTVES, Pennsylvania

“Even though we do not have a lot of these calls, every FD should do this course.  It can save firefighters’ lives.”  Bob Teed, Peapack-Gladstone FD, New Jersey

“Well worth the time and a wealth of knowledge gained.”   Judith Fagan, Peapack-Gladstone FD, New Jersey

“This type (of) training will be recommended to all I work & volunteer for.”  Capt. Dominic Lorenzo, North Hudson Fire Rescue, New Jersey

“Very informative, interesting, and fun.  A lot more is to be learned than what home companies have done.”  Melissa Zallo, Port Ewen FD and Town of Esopus EMS, New York

“We have a lot of water incidents in our area.  I feel these skills are important to have.”  Kathleen Coppersmith, Esopus FD, New York

“Well worthwhile.  I have taken this class twice before and I puck up more information and techniques each time…helps a great deal with cold water operations.”  Matthew Previll, Stone Ridge Fire Co., New York

“The instructors are knowledgeable, the participation is effective.  I learned a lot.”  Steve Enright, Stone Ridge Fire Co., New York

“Obtained some valuable knowledge of ice conditions, hypothermia.   Learned more about (ice) rescue equipment and methods of use.  Never know when you might be in the position of rescuer or victim.”  Ron Ito, Lethbridge FD, Alberta

“It has opened my eyes to the effects of cold and the energy required to perform a rescue.” R.W. McLeod, Pincher Creek Emergency Services, Alberta

“As a tender (new) I am now aware of all of the duties and responsibilities required of me in my role and am confident now that I can complete the task.”  Sean Cashman, Scituate FD, Massachusetts

“This class was exceptional and it really raises concerns about the use of recreational training agencies for public safety diving.  The current standards for most fire departments are dangerously lacking.”  Keith M. McDonald, Plymouth FD / Plymouth County Tech Team, Massachusetts

“Course was very worthwhile because by breaking it all down to little steps it makes it easier to get in the ice.  Takes fears away by concentrating on details.”  Pat Reilly, Scituate FD, Massachusetts

The following is an excerpt from MEDIA REVIEW in Advanced Rescue Technology Volume 5, Number 1 February/March 2002 by Norm Rooker, EMT-P   Reprinted with permission of Advanced Rescue Technology, Van Nuys, CA

Surface Ice Rescue by Walt “Butch” Hendrick and Andrea Zaferes.

Fire Engineering, 1999 ISBN 0-912212-85-3

Every winter, we see news footage of a firefighter in full turnouts struggling across, and usually breaking through, a sheet of ice while attempting to rescue someone who has fallen through. This is a brave individual, who is usually undertrained, improperly equipped and improperly led, attempting to do the best he or she can to save a life. Fortunately, while I have a lot of unique water rescue problems in my jurisdiction, ice rescue is not one of them. If it was, I may well have been one of those well-meaning rescuers. That is until I read Surface Ice Rescue by Walt “Butch” Hendrick and Andrea Zaferes.

This is one great book! Hendrick and Zaferes present a very relaxed, reality-based book that addresses just about every issue around this unique subcategory of water rescue. The authors address everything from the Awareness, Operational and Technician levels of ice rescue; how ICS or IMS is applied to ice rescue incidents and the roles of each position; what kind of training and equipment are required for each level of response with straight-up cautions and watch-out fors; and how not to “be taken to the cleaners” by some slick salesman. As they caution, expensive is not necessarily better.

Also shared are a number of safety issues and strategies like, no one gets within 25 feet of the ice or water’s edge without wearing a PFD (personal flotation device), or keeping your EMS personnel and their ambulance warm so they can begin treatment and be able to use those unique EMS fine motor skills at a moment’s notice. Also, setting up spotters for each victim in the water so if they disappear below the surface, your team has a point-last-seen reference to work with.

Another strategy that hit me between the eyes like a bolt of lightning and made me say “Duh”, was the use of ice divers. If the ice is junky, Hendrick and Zaferes recommend inserting ice divers under the ice to support and stabilize the victim while the surface ice rescue team is making its way out – a two-pronged approach for a safe and effective rescue.

There are also several chapters on various medical aspects of cold exposure and its effects on victims and rescuers. Especially the effects of multiple cold exposures.

All in all, this is one great book! This book is literally a must-have for anyone involved in or who may remotely be part of involved in an ice rescue. It should be part of every organization’s resource library. Did I mention that I really like this book?


Instructor Training Course

“I completed the Team LGS PSD Phase 1 ITC about three weeks ago and have never had a learning experience that came close to comparing to this 10 day course.  Bottom line-If you want to learn the most from the best, take the LGS ITC! There were 5 of us in the class, two were already NAUI Instructors, 3 were Dive Team Leaders & I strongly believe everyone left the ITC with the same feeling I have.

Prior to showing up to the ITC, Team LGS requires that you complete their Scuba Instructor Readiness Series (SIRS) program. This is self-study program, which includes a 5 video tape series with a 700 page workbook that you fill out as you watch the tapes. The tape subjects are Physics, Physiology, Confined Water Sessions, Open Water Sessions/Dive Tables, and Teaching Concepts.

I cannot overstate what an incredibly valuable tool this was.  SIRS teaches the subjects in a stimulating manner that keeps you focused & interested.  As you are learning the material, you’re also learning effective methods of teaching the information effectively. SIRS also presents information starting with the basics & building on them gradually, to a very high level of knowledge. Using these building blocks makes learning a whole lot easier on the student.

I spent about 3 months, maybe 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours on the SIRS series. It sounds like a lot, and it is.   However, completing SIRS gave me a great advantage once the course began & will be a tool I will always use to increase my personal skill level, knowledge & teaching ability. For those of you not necessarily team leaders, but divers, this series will prove a superior tool in your inventory.  It is my belief that everyone, no matter how proficient a diver they are, can learn from SIRS.

Anyway on to the course itself…   A few things made the course very effective…1) Throughout the course they constantly required you to THINK about what you were learning, the reasons WHY something is done a particular way being as important as the how-to-do it.  2) Rather than get up in front of the class & lecture us on the various subjects, we, the Instructor Canidates, are the one going up there & teaching the information. We each gave about 20-25 or more teaching presentations, not only in the class but in the pool, in open water etc. 3) Butch & Andrea did an excellent job of focusing on & working through the student’s weaknesses, be they certain diving skills, a classroom subect, or for me personally, getting up in front & doing the teaching!  They always encouraged questions & would spend time outside of class to assist you. 4) The focus was always on your potential students & how you can always maximize their learning experience. 5) Lastly, and most imporatantly they co nstantly strove to drive in SAFETY-The LGS motto is “At the end of the day, go home safely” & every thing they do is geared towards that. You will be very challenged finding safer way to perform public safety diving.”         Pete Dawidowicz


Phase 1 Public Safety Diving

“I have taken open water diving courses before, and did not learn half that I did in this one. All personnel looking to work in public safety diving should take this course.” Brad Eveland, Eielson AFB FD, Alaska

“Greatly expanded my knowledge of diving.   Everyone will benefit from this course no matter how long you have been diving.” Jason Barnard, Eielson AFB FD, Alaska

“The instructors went in-depth into every part of the course making it easier t learn and made us all around better divers.”   Adam M. Burke, Eielson AFB FD, Alaska


Field Neurological Evaluation/O2

“Thank you again for what has proved to be the best diving related course I have taken, both in content and presentation. I would definitely recommend this course for any diver of any certification level. The FN/O2 course provides in depth theory into what causes diving accidents and translates it into practical application that any diver can use in the field. This is true of both self evaluation and evaluation of other divers. I have been teaching scuba for over 20 years and I am not ashamed to say that I learned more teaching techniques in the FN/O2 instructor program than in any class I have ever taken. Plus, I am continuing to learn from the Lifeguard Systems video series. I have already integrated many of the techniques into my classes. in my opinion any instructor’s classes would be improved as a result of taking this program, both on an informational level and a presentation level.



“I called Monday morning to order an Ice Rescue Sling, and was in need of having it by Thursday.  I am happy to say that the sling was delivered on Tuesday morning. I would like to thank you for your quick service. Having this device for our squad training on Thursday will be a great asset. Thank you again for your help.” Ryan McCormick Verona Rescue Squad Verona, NJ



“The course was very well taught and the information conveyed well. A lot of good info. I was very impressed with the course content and presentation. I learned a lot about looking at the big picture and keeping things to their basics.” Jack Crouse  Oswego FD, Oswego, NY

“I have taken numerous LGS courses, you absolutely set the bar in the training industry”.  Scott Ells, Yantic CT

Large Area Search and Rescue

“Very much so [worthwhile]! The curriculum of this class is time tested and well thought out.  This will save our lives in a bad situation and absolutely improve our performance as a team.  [I liked] the knowledge of the instructors, the drills and the strict standards kept by Butch & Bryan.  Absolutely [recommend] ver impressive instructors, class content and safety!”  Rick Karg, High Ridge Fire District, Missouri


Underwater Investigations

“I have taken over 800 hours of classes at the state fire academy and I have not had any instructor as knowledgeable as the ones in this class.”  Allen Stephens  Columbus FD, Columbus, MS


Moving Water Search and Rescue/Recovery Diving

“Top of the line Teachers who cared about us learning”.  Antonio Ciccone, Middletown, NJ

“Field training and application – Perfect balance between classroom and water time”.   Daniel Benbrook Middletown Police Department, Middletown, NJ

“The course was very well taught and the information conveyed well. A lot of good info. I was very impressed with the course content and presentation. I learned a lot about looking at the big picture and keeping things to their basics.” Jack Crouse  Oswego FD, Oswego, NY

“Very beneficial to divers, tenders, and boat drivers.”   Jody Pendarvis, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Huntsville, Arkansas

“Teaches skills essential to public safety diving while keeping safety paramount.”  Scott Tudor, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Little Rock, AR

“I have extended m capabilities by diving water I would not have previously dived.  Any public safety diver would benefit from this training, experience.”  Timothy Hibbs, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Little Rock, AR

“A good course for any agency that has swiftwater in their response district.”  Phil Christensen, Ft. Smith FD, Ft. Smith, AR