ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – Friday through Sunday, divers from Delta and Dickinson counties are training with Dive Rescue International.
The goal of the training, hosted by the Delta County Sheriff Dive Rescue Team, is for each diver to earn their public safety certification.
“Public safety diving is much different than commercial diving and it’s also different than recreational diving,” said Jim Kirby, assistant dive team leader for the Sheriff’s Department. “We have a lot more safety protocols that we deal with and a lot of different things that we have to learn.”
The training began with classroom work Friday morning. Then, they headed to the Northern Lights YMCA pool at the Bay College campus to learn the equipment.
“They’ll flood their mask, which is something that could happen when you’re diving,” explained Dive Rescue International instructor Scott Foreman. “You could knock it loose, you could hit it on something. They’re going to practice gear removal, a confidence-building skill to know where you’re equipment is, know how it all connects to your body and to your system.”
Divers also practiced search patterns and emergency ascents.
“It simulates that they’re out of air and they have to make it back to the surface,” Foreman said. “There’s techniques to do that to prevent bodily injury for divers.”
Kirby and Foreman say while those are just the basics, they can make all the difference in a place like the Upper Peninsula.
“It’s definitely important being on the Great Lakes,” Kirby said. “Also we have a lot of inland lakes, inland ponds, rivers everywhere. We train for every situation.”
“The colder the water is, the longer they stay down,” said Foreman. “Obviously, up here in the northern part of the United States, you deal with colder water. The body can be sub-surface for a while, so having a team to recover that is huge.”
Saturday and Sunday, training will move to the marina to give divers a more real-world experience. After receiving their certification, they will be able to provide an essential service to their communities.
“People don’t realize it until they’re actually a victim of something tragic,” said Foreman. “If it’s your loved one that’s missing, you know they’re below water, you want them to come home—even if it is just a recovery. A team like this can provide not only rescue efforts but also the closure side of it too by bringing a loved one home.”
Kirby says the Delta County Sheriff Dive Rescue Team is always looking for new volunteers. To inquire about an application, call the Sheriff’s Department at (906) 786-3633 or visit the department at 2800 College Avenue in Escanaba. Click here to follow the Dive Rescue Team on Facebook.