Newaygo County Sheriff's Dive Team Prepares For Summer Emergencies
Story and photos by Doug Harmon
As spring fades away and the months of summer start to take hold so do the possibilities of water accidents. This Saturday past the Newaygo County Sheriff's Dive Team along with the Marine patrol practiced skills and drills they hope they will never need.
With the recent retirement of dive leader Lee Fetterley, the reins have been handed off to deputy Justin Visser, assisted by Fremont Police officer Matt Hendrie.Both have extensive experience and have been on the dive team for years, logging hundreds of dives. With the retirement of many of the long standing members of the dive team, Visser and Hendrie have been actively recruiting new members for the dive team. New team members are recruited from law enforcement, fire departments and a few local candidates. New team members obtain their open water dive certification with a local dive instructor.
They mentor with the current dive team members to obtain much needed skills to perform the emergency tasks needed. Some may also choose to take advanced courses in search and rescue, search and recovery and underwater criminology, when the funds are available. Wintertime the team will practice in the pool to keep their skills sharp. The open water lake environment always has many challenges. Dive team members many times are diving in zero visibility. With Michigan waters never warm at depth, divers practice with heavy 7 mil wetsuits to handle the cold thermoclines they may encounter. Skills and drills are practiced to be able to handle any problems or emergencies underwater. Some of those could include mask failure, air delivery problems, losing visual contact with your dive buddy or possible entanglement.
Dive team members practice different recovery patterns under the water.
This increases their skills and efficiencies. The Marine Patrol assists the dive team occasionally when the Team is being pulled on a tow bar in a search pattern, under the water. It allows the divers to cover a large area of water, such as Hardy or Croton. The divers are usually pulled at a knot of speed. Dive team members have their dive gear with them at all times ready for any emergency. This past training session was at Fremont Lake.
The dive team has more training sessions planned throughout the summer at other lakes and waterways.