Thursday, August 11, 2005

Chapter 13: December 2, 2030 Dive Team

The next day, Joe came into work in the afternoon, as he always did on Tuesdays, so he could take classes at Auraria.

“How as class?”, Lily asked.

“Two hours of emergency tracheometries on dummies, could be worse.”, Joe replied. “Then, on the way back I stopped by the department offices to get next semester’s course list. I was this flyer and I saved it for you.”

Joe handed her a flier for the Denver Metro Dive Rescue Team.

“It’s all volunteer and after yesterday afternoon, I’m sure you have the right stuff for the team. Didn’t you say you used to do some scuba with relatives in Louisiana?”

Lily smiled a small pouty smile, “It’s nice to know that somebody listens when I blather on. I still have all the gear.”

“Will you give it a try?”, Joe asked.

“I don’t know. I won’t know anyone. I don’t know if I’m confident enough to presume to go on call to save people.”, Lily said.

“O.K., let’s go in together. Their next orientation meeting is Monday night.”

“O.K.”, Lily said, not sure what she’d just committed herself to.

“Bring your gear.”, Joe said.

The Denver Metro Dive Team Rescue Orientation Meeting was at a pool at D.U. A wirey man in his thirties in a Speedo presided from the diving board.

“Since you’re here, I’m going to assume you’re interested in joining the Dive Rescue Team. We’re all going to start with a brief warm up, then a swimming skills test, then a scuba skills test, and then we’ll regroup after the practical tests and talk about what the team does, what responsibilities members have, training requirements, and a few other questions. O.K. Let’s start with stretches.”

A woman on the deck in a dive rescue team t-shirt and suit led the stretching. Volunteers were lined up at each of the six lanes in the pool for the swim test. About a third of the applicants had washed out on the first swim test, a 1000 meter swim. A few more didn’t make the underwater swimming requirement. One more person couldn’t handle the object retrieval, and another failed the blind swim. There were still a dozen people left, however, when everyone started putting on their dive gear. Lily and Joe, however, were both still in the running.

The first dive test was a surprise. After a one minute explanation, everyone had to carry a CPR dummy, while in their dive suit, across the natatorium, up the ladder to the high dive, back down again, and then underwater all the way back across the pool with a clock running. Lily and Joe again passed the test, but four of the remaining twelve orientees didn’t finish in the requisite six minutes. They headed off to a debriefing volunteer who offered the rejected applicants free t-shirts and a videotape for trying.

Lily nudged Joe as she saw the scene.

“Maybe we should quit while we’re ahead.”

“No way Lily. You are here with a purpose and nothing is going to get in your way.”, Joe said.

There were a couple of deep water exercises, an equipment check which disqualified an applicant, and a high dive requirement, which disqualified another applicant. The six remaining applicants of the original twenty proceeded to a lifeguards’ room off the pool area, matched one on one with the volunteers.

Each volunteer sat down across from an applicant with a questionnaire. The woman who had led the opening stretches was interviewing Lily.


“Lily Matsunaka.”



Lily proceeded to give her address, phone number, place of employment, work phone number, veteran status, and state that she had a driver’s license and working vehicle.

“Criminal record?”

“A couple of traffic tickets, but nothing else as an adult. My license is still good.”

“Highest level of education reached?”

“10th grade.”

“Are you still in school?”

“I dropped out when my dad died and got a job as a florist in Sterling.”

A medium length medical history followed, with Lily able to answer no to almost all of the questions. Her only known allergy was to certain ear drying agents.

“Emergency contact?”

She gave her grandmother’s phone name and phone number.

“Any prior rescue experience?”

“I pulled a guy out of a semi that crashed into the South Platte last week with Joe Rodriguez’s help.”

“You’re shitting me. The police never identified the rescuers, and the guy was rescued before we got there. The hospital says if it had been any longer he would have died.”

“I say it was just luck that we could help. But, Joe convinced me to sign up.”

“Great! That’s all the questions. We’ll be back in a few minutes after we’ve gone over the questionnaires. Help yourself to some hot coffee or cocoa.

The volunteers huddled and the applicants waited. Everyone was tired after the skills tests and questions, so it was not a talkative bunch. A couple of people furtively pointed at Lily and Joe.

“Any hard questions? It seems a lot like the EMT apprentice qualifications I did last year.”

“Not really. Are you sure they take high school dropouts? I was a bit surprised that they asked about it.”

“Only one way to find out.”, Joe replied.

Before long, the volunteers came out and talked individually with a couple of the applicants again. They were escorted out. Presumably, the answers to the questions they’d given were not satisfactory. Joe and Lily were still there.

The leader stepped to the front of the room again when the volunteers had returned.

“Congratulations. Welcome to the applicant class of 2030. Each of you has passed the preliminary skills tests and screening. If you’d like, the City will pay to put each of you through a six weekend Colorado Dive Rescue Training with other applicants from across the state, if you agree to stay on the team and be on call several days every month for the next year. We going to assign you buddies for the training process, Joe and Lily, you’ll be one pair. Steve and Robert, you’ll be the other pair.”

Joe looked at Lily and gleamed with pride. Lily looked back at Joe with a half smile.

“Thank you.”, she said. “I guess I just needed a nudge.”

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