Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team Prepares For Summer Water Season
Story by Doug Harmon
Photos by David Ressler
While our outdoor water enthusiasts prepare for a summer season of boating tubing boating swimming fishing jet skiing and other water shenanigans, the dive team, under the leadership of C.J. Freriks recently got into the Rec Center pool to practice skills and drills hoping they won’t need to use them this summer.
But if called upon they will be ready.
Eight members of the dive team spent approximately three hours Sunday in the Rec Center pool. A series of drills from simple to complicated were taught, learned and practiced and equipment is checked and tested for leaks, breakage or flaws.
Dive team members are required to have their dive gear with them at all times in their patrol vehicle in case of an emergency.
Simple equipment checks are assurance your breathing regulator is operating properly, your face mask or intercom mask is working properly with no leaks or straps that are rotting and ready to break. Your buoyancy jacket needs to be blown up properly and your scuba tank valve must function properly with no leaks.
After the basics are covered the team moves on to some of the techniques used in locating objects underwater. One of the drills requires three dive team members. One member will be placed in a boat or on shore with one end of a rope. One member will be in the water swimming arcs. Hand signals on the rope indicate when more rope is needed to extend the pattern out or change direction. Three tugs indicate the diver has found what he’s looking for. The third diver will then go down the rope line and assist the first diver in retrieval. This may seem simple in the pool but did I mention the dive team members perform this drill with a black covering over their mask?
As the lakes warm up algae blooms thicken and visibility can be from zero to a few inches if they are lucky. This practice trains and prepares them to operate in a vision-less environment.
The dive team will conduct practice sessions throughout the summer to perfect their skills in actual open water scenarios
Have a safe water sports season and I hope you never have to see the dive team in action but this group of dedicated divers will be ready if called.