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March 22, 2018 10:00 PM

Minnehaha County Emergency Management Dive Team Training To Save Lives

Accidents happen and unfortunately some of those take place in water. 

Many times, the Minnehaha County Emergency Management Dive Team is called to the scene.  

Whether it's assisting in a drowning or helping find evidence lost in the water, the dive team is always ready. 

This isn't just an ordinary day at the pool.

"We want to train for all the problems in the pool and then we train for the problems in the lake," said Chief Diver Greg Wolbrink.

These divers are part of the Minnehaha County Emergency Management Dive Team and they're training to save lives. 

"If we do have an actual emergency on our side we've experienced that hopefully a couple different times in good, clear water like a pool and murky pond water like out at Wall Lake," said Wolbrink. 

Pool and lake trainings throughout the year to help divers prepare for anything that may come their way.

"We're getting new divers, new public safety divers in the water training them for the under the ice set up. It's a little bit different then open water set ups with heavier insulation," said Wolbrink

"There is certain things we have to do when we're diving in the ice. We can't let the equipment get wet until we dive, we can't breathe off it until we dive, we might have it freeze up underwater," said volunteer diver Glenn Foster.

The divers are all volunteers and learn as they go. 

"They've taught us search patterns, how to properly recover evidence so it can still be used in a case. Bottom recovery techniques, different stuff like that," said volunteer diver Anthony Reimnitz. 

They start by getting their equipment ready, putting on the wetsuit, and finally getting in the water. 

A head set is a direct line between the diver and the people back here on the surface. In case it fails they do have another way of communicating with the diver which is the line signals. One tug means that they're ok and then two tugs is for them to change direction.

"In the event that we would come loose, we do a lost diver drill. In that drill, we simulate a diver coming off his rope and getting lost," said Wolbrink. 

"We're always diving in low visibility and most of the time no visibility. Palisades for example is always black, it's pitch dark, it's equivalent to walking around in a room with the lights off," said Foster. 

"When you're diving in black water with no visibility it's really mentally straining because you can't see anything. Your eyes and mind plays tricks on you," siad Reimnitz. 

That's why the diver's masks are so important. 

"They can talk to us back and forth, they can hear our breathing if it's labored, if we're having a problem. It's also a comfort source too with the tender talking to you," said Foster. 

The dive team doesn't get as many calls as police and fire crews but the work is just as critical. 

"We respond probably around four or five times a year. That's why this training is even more important in my opinion is so that we can keep familiar with the equipment and keep everything fresh in our memory," said Wolbrink. 

"Every call-out is a little different but when we do get a call out, it's game time. We take it pretty serious," said Foster. 

With every call is a chance to help a cause bigger than themselves. 

"It's a way to give back to the community. I think if we all do our own little part we can have a better world," said Reimnitz. 

"What's kind of exciting for me is we're getting a lot of new divers in here. So to see their excitement with them and wanting to give back to the community, that's probably the biggest thing that I like," said Foster. 

The dive team is always looking for volunteer divers, you can call or stop in at the Emergency Management Office to pick up an application. 

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