The DiveSMART Baltic project was initiated due to the Costa Concordia accident in 2012. The lessons learned by the Italian rescue divers were shared at a national conference, and the information revealed obvious gaps in Swedish emergency preparedness.
Consequently, The Swedish Coast Guard and the Swedish Armed Forces launched a national project that has successfully coordinated all professional Swedish divers and their equipment in order to increase preparedness and efficiency when an incident occurs. The DiveSMART Baltic project has the same aims in relation to coordinating and preparing divers across the Baltic Sea Region.
Incidents have occurred with regularity, and will continue to do so in the future. The Baltic Sea has experienced accidents involving vessels such as the Jan Heweliusz and the Estonia. There have been several accidents elsewhere in the world recently, including the Sewol in South Korea and a river cruiser in China, both of which took hundreds of lives.
These accidents concern passenger ferries. Maritime spatial planning has also put more people on the sea, which adds challenges in terms of search and rescue when people are in distress. The Baltic Sea area has huge wind farms, and we build attractive residential areas in harbours with floating homes. accidents have and will happen in these environments, and people have been trapped underwater in confined spaces. Situations of this kind demand a search and rescue diver response.
Another issue to consider is that while people in accidents involving water can drown, many can also die of exposure since the Baltic Sea is cold. Materials, bail -out equipment and quick and safe penetration into confined spaces can save time – and also lives – if rescue team members can work together smoothly as a result of common training and development.
The DiveSMART Baltic project therefore focuses on:
- mapping out of competences and resources, and creating a database to be used by national rescue services around the Baltic;
- creating mobilisation strategies for divers and equipment;
- Creating common training and exercise opportunities;
- Creating common guidelines/Standard Operational Procedures;
- Performing research on rescue equipment/diving equipment/penetration techniques;
- Creating exchanges between professional diving schools around the Baltic to develop excellence in training and education.
The project promotes safety in the Baltic as well as outside the scope of the project, since cooperation includes the majority of professional divers, in total 2 ,500 persons, and diving schools. emergency services will have simple, relevant and updated information. Few – if any – countries have the national capacity to cope with a severe accident similar to the Costa Concordia. Through coordination and common understanding of procedures, knowledge of general and specific diving competences and mapping out gaps, we can ensure that we have a solid and sustainable search and rescue organisation in the Baltic Sea region, making it a safer place in which to travel, live and work.
The BRISK project uses the following colours to specify risk. Blue indicates a risk of a crossing collision between tankers and ferries, for example. Red indicates a risk of an en route/head-on collision. Yellow indicates a risk of grounding.