Water Safety Field Trip with Underwater Rescue and Recovery

I was dreading going out.  The rain and dark skies had left me rather listless.  Part of the field trip was supposed to take place outside, and there was thunder and lighting. I2 and H4 were adamant that they wanted to just stay home.  I seriously considered skipping the whole thing.

But Daddy was home for the day, and he offered to come along, so after gathering enough rain/cold weather supplies for a small army off we went.

I'm so glad we did!

One of the moms in our local homeschool support group is a diver for Underwater Rescue and Recovery.  We have the only team in 5 states!  They used to be under city jurisdiction, but the city moved them to the county.  After a while the county set them free.  Now they are non-jurisdictional and completely funded by donations.  All members of the team are volunteers.  They recover everything from human beings (by the time they're on the scene, though, it's too late for saving a life--they said, "all we can offer is closure to a grieving family"), to police evidence, to boats, to wedding rings.

Our friend said that they recovered 27 bodies last year--most of them teens NOT under the influence of alcohol.  She said the worst thing is peer pressure.  Teens daring teens to take risks that seem silly or fun and adventurous but ultimately end their lives.

The field trip took place at the actual Underwater Rescue and Recovery headquarters.  There were so many of us (50 or more) that we were divided into 4 groups and rotated through stations. 

1.  A lesson on basic water safety with our mom friend member of the team--it is key to remember to relax when in trouble in the water.  Panic is what causes people to drown.  A relaxed body will float.
2.   A lesson on water rescue--"Reach.  Throw.  Row.  No Go!"  It was heavily emphasized that even parents should follow these rules because even a very small child who is panicked can drown a would-be rescuer who is in over his/her head. 
3.  A chance to see and touch the equipment the team divers wear.  Interestingly they wear "dry suits" most of the time--Haz-mat level protection over a long-sleeved t-shirt and long pants.  They use extra insulation when they're diving in cold water.
4.  A really cool station in which we practiced searching for a small tool in a bin full of muddy water--just like the divers do.  Then we plunged our hands in ice water--seeing what the water the divers actually swim in is like.  Then they took us into their rescue truck and showed us all of their equipment there.

All 4 stations were set up indoors (water safety in the office, the other stations in their training/equipment garage), so no one was out in the storms.  It was a little loud and crowded, but totally manageable.

My 4 big girls went with other older kids, so the discussions/lessons they received were tailored to older kids, while those of us in little kid groups got lessons geared toward their attention spans and interests.   My big girls also started the first tentative reaching out to make new friends with this new group.  (I want so much to attend another event soon and help those friendships grow!)

At the end there were handouts of all kinds on water safety--everything from coloring pages to buoyancy science experiments.  For 7 kids I took a stack an inch thick and stapled together packets of interest to their varying ages.  Already I've seen a couple of my kids pull out their packets and spend time reading.  We had a great dinner table discussion of the day.

I'm so glad we went!!!!

**Today's family school assignment:  Write thank you letters to the team members who shared their time with us.

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