My dive training

After a year of work as a fireman, it was 1980, i was 22 years old. Married for two years with my lovely wife Marja she is now 56 and i am 57.  An officer came on the station and asked if there was anyone who would like to be a diver. I told him i don't like swimming. He said thats okay you have to sink.

After that i was a professional diver for 18 years. First i had some thoughts about it, finally i saw it as a challence and tried the training. Today it is completaly different, our diver training is now at the marine diving centre in DenHelder. But in 1980 our fire department had there own dive instructors. The training took 3 months. I mean 3 months every day under water.  In the first week there was a medical and physical test. There where 3 or 4 more colleagues who tried the training together with me. They put us in a pressure tank to find out if we where physical able to work in the pressure of 10 bar this is the pressure from 10 meter , 33 feet deep. In comparison with sea divers its nothing you will say. True, but i learned the first 33 feet are the most dangerous, even the first 10 feet are the most dangerous as the pressure doubles every 3,5 feet. It is dangerous because of the way we work. When a call comes in i have to go from my warm bed to the truck, put on my diving gear while driving, and within 10 minutes i have to go real fast to the bottom of a canal. Thats why you need a good healthy body and a strong mind for it. We use big lead blocks to ensure we sink real fast. So when it is only 15 feet, 5 meter deep, the danger is in the speed we are doing it. What we try to find is on the bottom. Every second counts in situations like this. I was a rescue diver and they work fast real fast, your brains can only 3 minutes without oxygen before the damage will start. When its cold the water temperature is the luck  for most rescues. In summer unfortunetely there is less change to save a person. Try to imagine why it is everytime a challenge when the call comes in. Wintertime, with the change of saving a life, its your job so you go fast, from your warm bed 40 degrees celsius within 15 minutes under water with a temperature of 2 degrees celsius. In the days of my training we used 3 part wetsuits, and low pressure air lungs. Now a days we have dry suits in on piece, you can step into it with your clothes on. there is no contact with the cold water anymore, maybe a little on your hands as the cloves are still wet. After the pressure tank with tells you there is no problem with your eustachiantube, so your capable to level the air in the cavities of your skull with the water pressure around you. It is one of the most important physical things a diver need and it is not possible to dive at all when you can not do this. You level by blowing your nose while you close your nose with your hand. Some people can't do it and have allready problems with just swimming. I hope you can follow me. After the years an experience diver almost levels automatically. The first weeks a fireman diver trains in a swimming pool. It was my first experience with breathing under water, i remember it felt strange, but easy. Every other day the training became more difficult. To take of the goggles below the surface was first alarming for me, but just like the other new things the training helped to make it easy.

Leaving the dive device on the bottom of the pool while you go to the surface and you have to dive to it and put it on again, had to be sure all the water was blown out before you could breath again, this was the same with the goggless hold up your head and blow through your nose to leave out the air inside and on your face. This was again a alarming experience especcially when the water is really cold. After a while they made the goggless screen black with paint so everything around you will be black as if you are blind. Again new for me. In the blind had to do the same training this was much more difficult i can tell you. It was the preparation of the feel you have when diving in dark water. The day i realized this was some days later on the bottom of a canal only holding a rope with a weight on it. Just sitting there made think, do i like this what i am doing today? That day i new it was not the sport like many divers do. It is a job someone had to do but its no fun doing it believe me. After some weeks in the swimming pool and the training became easy for us, we went to the canals from Amsterdam. Every day under water gave me self confidence with the devices and tools we used below. I remember one day we did all the excersises in a lake for the first time this was again a victory, as i found out i had no trouble doing all of them. The training was not without risk, i remember the free takeoff from 30 feet without air to take with you. It was with this exercise that you had to understand to blow out the expanding air during the rise to the surface. While rising you had to hold the rope. Years later i almost lost a junior diver and collaegue as he came off the rope and was lost in the blackness of the water for a while. They found him somewhere under the surface unconscious, but he seemed fine later on and was a diver for many years. When i am writing this story i remember one of my first car dives. We trained a lot how to do jobs like this but the real job felt completely different. The second rule you learn is to stay calm in all circumstances. I needed this rule as i got stuck on the door handle of the car. Almost freaked out, try to imagine yourself with no experience, first job, cold water, dark and when checking the car for people my belt got stuck between the door handle, it was many years ago but i remember everyhing first when i found the car, it was an old citroen with a cotton roof. The roof  came lose when the car entered the water and was moving in the current above the car. The first contact i had with the car was swimming against the roof and it was folding around me. When i got stuck with my belt i remembered after a minute the rule to stay calm. I can tell you a calm person is much stronger. At first i was not capable to go out of the car it was if someone hold me there. But in the calm moment i was able to free myself of the handle. so did my job made straps around the wheels and brought the hook from the crane, to pull it out of the water.  I can tell a lot more but this a about my dive training. For this story i feel i wrote enough. I hope its readable with my english, haha. Please share if you like my stories. Talk to you next time.