Training to be heroes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lausanne Morgan
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
For the past week, the 56th Rescue Squadron has been conducting subsurface search, rescue and recovery training here.

The pararescuemen trained in a controlled environment allowing them to focus on their curriculum without being disturbed.

The cove, far removed from the unpredictable English coastline, provided a closed-off area with pre-positioned tugboats, helicopters and other various wrecks with various depths.

"The purpose of us being down here is for the dive supervisor who is attached to the 56th RQS and the divers to prep themselves for theatre, whether it be Iraq or over in Afghanistan," said Master Chief Petty Officer (retired) Doug Westling, 56th Rescue Squadron master diver. "They're getting ready to deploy and they need to sharpen their diving skills."

Dive supervisor Staff Sgt. Jeremy Diola, 56th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, is in charge of all aspects of diving, safety and operations.

Before, during and after the dive, the individuals are briefed, run through scenarios, and perform equipment checks.

"I make sure we perform pre-dive checks, execution and post dive procedures and just ensuring everyone is staying within the Navy and Air Force dive regulations," said Sergeant Diola.

One measure to ensure safety is wearing dry suits. Dry suits allow protection from exposure to contaminants while in the water. Normal clothing can also be worn underneath the suit to make it more comfortable for the individual.

The 56th brought between 1,500 to 1,800 pounds of equipment with them to the training site which included all the scuba diving gear, air tanks and mannequins for performing various scenarios.

"They'll do insertion dives where they'll simulate going down into a downed aircraft, perform extractions with mannequins to simulate recovering bodies, and dexterity evolutions to simulate being found and doing emergency egresses," said Mr. Westling. "These are the final skill sets they're going to perfect prior to them deploying."

For scuba diving enthusiasts, a day out in the water might consist of taking photos of beautiful sea life and exploring the depths. For the pararescuemen of the 56th RQS, it's all about saving lives and, most would tell you, a way of life.

"I love my job," said Sergeant Diola. "Just the personal connection you get with the people you go out and save and the group of guys is one of the best things about it. Rescue in itself is a real personal thing and it's really satisfying."

View slideshow.