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Airmen take education to a 'lower' level

CURACAO, Netherlands Antilles (AFNEWS) -- Every day, Airmen are participating in activities outside of the duty day to better themselves in their jobs, education and overall well-being. Airmen here have a unique opportunity to improve all three areas with one activity, scuba diving.

Learning to scuba dive directly relates to professional knowledge applicable in multiple Air Force specialty codes, and readily apparent for those in emergency response career fields.

Not surprising, numerous deployed security forces and firefighters have taken advantage of this one-of-a-kind opportunity, not usually available to those temporarily assigned to other parts of the world.

Staff Sgt. Jason Ziokowski, a security forces Airmen deployed from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is working toward his rescue diver certification and said the ground rescue training he received in the Air Force has helped him in the diving class and vice versa.

"All security forces Airmen are trained as first responders and must take a refresher course once a year," Sergeant Ziokowski said. The diving course teaches you to use a compass to navigate underwater, a land skill that is taught to all Airmen during basic training.

The rescue course teaches people to identify distress signals, both above and below water, to administer aid to a struggling diver, to navigate underwater, and to be certified in emergency first response.

Airmen can enroll in six different types of diving classes, from the very basic to a master diver, to rescue diving.

"The rescue diver certification is not an easy class," said Monouk Hemmen, a dive instructor. "A person must be certified as an open water diver as well as and advanced diver." To be eligible to take the rescue class, a diver must have logged between 20 to 30 dives.

Rescue diving really makes you re think your self-aid and buddy care," said Master Sgt. Tony Cunningham, the 429th Expeditionary Operations Squadron first sergeant and a certified rescue diver. "(Similar to SABC) the rescue diver would treat the most life-threatening injury, stabilize the victim and get them to a place where they can receive more advanced care."

A large part of diving is crisis management, Sergeant Cunningham said. It emphasizes the value of staying clam and having situational awareness. These are just some of skills the Air Force instills in each Airman deployed to any part of the world.

The rescue course mandates approximately 25 hours of instruction time, theory lessons and an end of course exam.

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