"I know we have said it few times but thank you all again for the education you provided us during the UTD Essentials of Recreational Diving class. It was all I wanted and more for our program. You have allowed me to realize a growth potential in our diving program that I have been trying for years to get started. It couldn't have happened without you."
- Jeff Christiansen, Dive Safety Officer / Biologist, Seattle Aquarium
In January 2011, Frog Kick Diving began conducting UTD (Unified Team diving) training at the Seattle Aquarium for its dive supervisors, marine biologists and Dive Safety Officer (DSO). The training program would include Essentials of Recreational Diving, DPV 1, Instructor Development and Technical Diver training over several months.
The training kicked off on January 11, starting with Essentials. The three day Essentials class was conducted on-site, in the Seattle Aquarium's Underwater Dome from January 11 - 13, 2011 and was taught by UTD Instructors Brian Wiederspan, Jeanna Edgerton and Jeff Seckendorf and was staffed by Richard Jack (video) and included 6 Seattle Aquarium staff Biologists.
The second Essentials class was a 3 day class taught by Brian from March 16-18, 2011, and included 3 staff Biologists. The class was staffed by Scott Lundy (video) and was conducted on-site, in the Seattle Aquarium's Underwater Dome.
In April, Jeanna conducted an Essentials of Technical Diving upgrade for the the DSO & Assistant DSO. This was in preparation for their upcoming technical training, as well as their IDC. The dives were conducted in the Aquarium's Underwater Dome.
May 2011 brought DPV 1 training at the Aquarium. This was a very important program to the Aquarium, as the Aquarium was introducing Dive-Xtras Sierra class DPVs (Diver Propulsion Vehicles) into their field operations. While the DPVs would greatly expand their capabilities, the staff needed to be trained in safe operations and protocols when using DPVs, as well as care, maintenance and servicing. This training took place at the Seattle Aquarium's dock in Elliott Bay, at their Six Gill Shark Research Station. The class was taught by Brian and Jeanna, and staffed by Scott Lundy (video).
A UTD IDC (Instructor Development Course) started in June. This was taught by Brian and staffed by Jeanna. The IDC was an intense and comprehensive 4 month long course focusing on personal in-water skills, the UTD teaching methodology, presentation skills, dry run mechanics and class dive execution, briefing/debriefing procedures, video techniques and video debrief procedures. Special focus was also on team-diving protocols and how they could be integrated into the Aquarium's real world field operations. The result was Seattle Aquarium DSO Jeff Christiansen earning his UTD Essentials of Scientific Diving Instructor certification, enabling him to teach Essentials of Scientific Diving in-house at the Aquarium.
Spring 2012 brought technical training to the Aquarium staff. Brian and Jeanna conducted a Tech 1 course with staff biologists, enabling them to extend their field operations range to slightly deeper depths, longer bottom times, and most importantly, incorporating helium into their breathing gas, reducing narcosis and allowing for cleaner decompression, in addition to adding 100% oxygen for accelerated decompression.
This culmination, achieved by building the foundation of personal and team diving skills in Essentials, then adding DPVs, followed by technical training has greatly expanded the Aquarium's operating range and depths as well as its efficiency and safety.
Soon, the Seattle Aquarium should have another UTD Instructor on its staff. Assistant DSO Joel Hollander is currently in his IDC and will hopefully complete his training in fall of 2012.
FKD continues to provide dive training to Aquarium field and volunteer divers to help it achieve its long term goal of having all divers, staff and volunteer, trained in Essentials of Scientific Diving, providing consistency and increasing safety and effiency.