Creation of a maritime, submarine and underground rescue unit

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March 8, 2022 – A brand new Croatian diving unit for maritime, underwater and underground rescues has been created according to Civil Protection Directorate director Damir Trut, who recently spoke about it for Morski TV.

As Morsky writing, Croatia has a very long coastline and is one of the most indented countries in the world due to its intricate network of islands, bays and peninsulas. Due to its geography, it has become increasingly attractive to yachtsmen, divers, as well as other guests who want to enjoy the Adriatic Sea in a way that goes beyond a swim at the beach. . If we add caving exploration to these types of tourism, and then add rivers and other freshwater areas on land, we realize that organizing rescue units trained and equipped for rescues in various conditions and often very dangerous is more than necessary.

Due to the growing need for such a service, the newly formed Specialty Diving Group within the Water/Maritime Rescue Module of the State Civil Defense Response Unit was recently introduced to the public. The director of the Directorate of Civil Protection of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Damir Trut, revealed more.

There will be special forces diving centers in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek, says Damir Trut

”The range of tasks carried out by the Directorate of Civil Protection is very diverse. The State Civil Protection Intervention Unit is a unit that has the highest level of equipment and training in all of Croatia for the care and assistance of the population. It has several segments; for rubble rescue, water rescue, contaminated area rescue, and the list goes on. These are all areas that we have strategically improved and plan to add over the years.

In addition to the special training of first aiders, additional equipment is needed to make the job faster, more efficient and safer. All the conditions in which lifeguards work are the most dangerous of all. Water rescues are another element that lifeguards must actively work on. They need to have good training and proper licenses, but also good equipment so they can help those who need it most.

What is the number of members and where will these people and their centers be stationed?

”The diving unit is part of the water rescue unit, which also works in the event of flooding, but we have expanded it to cover maritime and ship rescue missions during the tourist season, which is more and more necessary. These units are spread over four sites: Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and Osijek. At the Zagreb site they have three other elements: the media part of it all and the technical team that takes care of the caves, the mapping and the use of the most sophisticated technical equipment, such as robots or scanners. Today, this technique gives us deeper insight into how and in what way something or someone is in danger.

There are two eight-member teams at each site, i.e. the sixteen most capable and qualified divers, who go through different levels of licensing and are then able to do such work. A large part is funded by EU projects. The Slovenian water rescue unit has a robot that we don’t have yet. We’re also going to get that equipment, we’re just waiting for the tenders to open, and then we’ll start moving in that direction ourselves.

Tragically, human losses occur, and unfortunately there have already been such situations in the Croatian Adriatic…

This is especially true during the tourist season. Accidents happen then. And we have in Croatia various organizations under the coordination and auspices of the Coast Guard, which jointly participate in rescue operations at sea. This segment of deep rescue was not well covered, so we analyzed and arrived at the conclusion that it was necessary to train and equip a unit capable of performing very demanding tasks under the sea and at depths of more than one hundred meters.

Although we do not have such a unit, there have been situations such as an unfortunate situation in the Sibenik region when Lucko’s special forces in Zagreb had to wait to recover the body of the injured fisherman, because he was very inconvenient to dive down to the wreck itself. Will these types of interventions be easier now?

We had and still have divers who can perform such tasks, but they were not well organized. They existed in different organizations and instances and therefore it was very difficult to carry out an organized rescue. It is important for the unit that it is organized and that it has a sufficient number of people and that they also have reinforcements and replacements.

You recently did exercises in this particular segment. What do they look like?

”We did this through several elements, we wanted to see if everything we had discussed could be harmonized with the procedures under which divers will continue to work. We carried out the rescue of a person who was drowning in a river, then we undertook a cave rescue and took care of the rescue of people from a ship that had sunk at sea. We also did the technical part of filming this ship and creating a 3D model of the ship so that we could analyze and see from land everything that was necessary. After the 3D analysis, a 3D model can be printed, so that literally on the table in front of you, engineers who are not divers can give advice or prepare all the necessary technical elements.

Besides all this, do rescue divers also use submarines, underwater and flying drones, and amphibious vehicles?

Yes, they do. A diver without equipment is still a diver, and with equipment he is a specialist who can provide quick and effective assistance to a victim and in the particular area where an unfortunate event has occurred.

Have there ever been rescues from caves and flooded areas?

Yes, the response to such situations has so far been mainly provided by the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, but this is still not enough, as they lack the capabilities for longer and stronger rescue. We have invited all the best in this field to organize the personnel of the State Response Unit. So we have members of the police, fire brigade and mountain rescue service. All team members are volunteers. They are put on call as needed, because it is not necessary to have professionals active all the time,” concluded Damir Trut.

For more information, see Made in Croatia.

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